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Media bias is "a way of reporting on a factual news story that is designed to sway a reader toward a specific conclusion."
"Media bias refers to the media exhibiting an unjustifiable favoritism as they cover the news. When the media transmit biased news reports, those reports present viewers with an inaccurate, unbalanced, and/or unfair view of the world around them."
Bias by Omission - leaving one side out of a news story, or a series of stories over a period of time
Bias by Selection of Sources - including more sources that support one view over another
Bias by Story Selection - highlighting news stories that coincide with a specific agenda
Bias by Placement - a pattern of placing news stories so as to downplay information supportive of a specific view
Bias by Labeling (two types) - tagging a person or group with labels while leaving another group unlabeled or with more mild labels OR describe the person or group with positive labels, such as “an expert” or “independent consumer group”
Bias by Spin - the story has only one interpretation of an event or policy, to the exclusion of the other; spin involves tone
Personal Bias - tendency to believe that some people or ideas are better than others resulting in unfair treatment
Explicit Bias - positive or negative attitudes or beliefs about a person, group, idea or issue that we deliberately hold and express
Implicit Bias - positive or negative attitudes or beliefs about a person or group, idea or issue that occurs unintentionally but affects opinion or behavior
Confirmation Bias - subconscious tendency to seek or interpret information in a way that confirms our belief, idea, expectation or hypotheses
How to Spot Fake News
Consider the source
Read beyond the headline
Check the author/author's credibility
What is the support/source
Check the date
Is it a joke, parody, satire
Check for bias - your bias, an author's bias, the source's bias
Is the information news, opinion, an advertisement?
Are the sources cited and why should you believe them? Is the source associated with a political party or special interest group?
What’s the evidence and how was it vetted? Is the source a document, a witness, hearsay/speculation?
Is the main point of the piece proven by the evidence or did the sources provided justify the conclusion or main point of the story?
Was there an aspect or point that was not covered or unclear that you are left wondering about?
Beware of Adjectives & Experts
Word choice is a key tool media uses to subtly convey bias. Adjectives added to headlines can create bias. Headlines should be factual and unbiased because biased headlines can be misleading, conveying excitement when the story is not exciting, expressing approval or disapproval.
Media use experts and analysts to lend credibility to their story. Think about where the person's expertise coming from? Are they a government official, a think tank spokesman or an academic? Be aware...an expert does not mean unbiased.
Examples of Bias
Examples of Headlines and Excerpts for Same Story...See the Bias?
A news story about 501(c)(4) organizations that are no longer required to identify tax donors to the IRS.
NRA and some other nonprofits will no longer need to identify their donors to the IRS
NAACP, Planned Parenthood and thousands of labor unions not required to disclose donors to tax officials
Hockey game coverage headlines from the two towns of the opposing teams.
Injury begins Avs' tumble (The Denver Post)
Wings are too much for Avalanche (The Detroit News)
Excerpts of two different accounts of the same hockey game.
The Red Wings played the Flyers last night in a hockey game and they won 4-3.
The Red Wings executed a decisive win (4-3) over the tempered Flyers, in last night’s heated game of ice hockey.
An article about a judge permitting one additional accuser to testify in the Bill Cosby trial.
Judge Allows Testimony of Another Accuser in Cosby Case
Bill Cosby Sex Assault Trial: Judge Allows Only 1 Other Accuser to Testify, Not 13
Headline for two articles discussing the topic of Jewish women studying the Talmud.
A Revolution in Jewish Learning, with Women Driving Change
Jewish Women Defy Rabbis and Start Reading Forbidden Text
Look for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy and purpose.
Currency - is this a recent article, if the article is not recent, the claims may no longer be relevant or have been proven wrong
Relevance - is the article relevant, some articles may appear to be addressing a current topic but you must read past the headline to determine relevance
Authority - who is the author, what are the author's credentials, what is the domain of the website (websites can mimic a legitimate source - look carefully), is it blog or a news source. is the website satirical or a hoax
Accuracy - is this article from an unbiased source and can the content be verified by multiple sources (if it appears in only one publication with no links to sources, it is very likely to be inaccurate especially with images that are shared)
Purpose - does this article provoke an emotional response because the intent of a valid news sources is to inform (inaccurate news articles are often written for the sole purpose of provoking an emotion such as anger, outrage, fear, happiness, excitement)
Some red flags to be aware of...
Clickbait - lots of ads or pop-up banners
Fake domains mimicking real websites such as abcnews.com.co
There are several sources you can consult to fact-check claims on dubious websites and social media: