May 25, 2021
Going online to read the news has become an uncertain pastime, with almost all news outlets being biased in one direction or another.
The public’s trust in the media is at an all-time low, and that’s not by accident. However, an average person still wants to stay informed about current domestic and foreign events.
But is that even possible in this increasingly polarized atmosphere of cable news outlets? In this article, we’ll gather a selected few news sources on the internet that still offer significant reliability.
In the last 40 years, the number of corporate media giants has gone from 50 to five. An unprecedented merger of these media companies has led to concentrated ownership by Comcast, Walt Disney Company, AT&T, Viacom, and the Fox Corporation.
Even if you didn’t know that, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise. But the fact that it’s the same people hiring and firing at these networks means they all have the same agenda – one rarely aligned with what’s best for the public.
Keep in mind that these conglomerates are not just for cable TV viewers. They all have platforms on social media, and search engine algorithms often prefer them to smaller media outlets.
So, where does that leave you? While being 100% unbiased is a challenging task even for the most principled journalist, there are a few news sources on the internet that have proven to be relatively unbiased and informative.
When it comes to commercial networks, almost all outlets have had their fair share of controversies and inaccuracies. However, PBS News has successfully avoided this problem.
They have consistently been immune to bias and controversies. In terms of right or left-leaning politics, they tend to cover both sides of a single issue. Also, quoting politicians and other significant figures usually comes with additional context.
Furthermore, PBS News offers a variety of categories readers online can dig into. Politics, Health, World, Nation, Economy, and other sections you can explore.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that whenever there’s a major event in the world, it’s the Associated Press that first publishes a photo or a report about it. Other news outlets rely on their efficiency and unbiased coverage to bring the news to their viewers and readers.
Their tagline is “Advancing the power of facts.” AP focuses on a non-inflammatory style of presenting. Even political stories tend to be neutral and without interpretations, as much as they can be from the reader’s viewpoint. On their website, Associated Press also has excellent video and listening sections that are regularly updated.
Another overall trusted news outlet on the internet is CBS News. However, they have been slightly more left-leaning in the past, but their audience has mainly continued to be center-aligned. You could argue that that makes CBS News politically balanced.
According to Gallup and Knight Foundation’s 2017 Survey, CBS News had a favorable score regarding unbiased reporting. The language they use tends to be neutral and very straight to the point.
This is one of the most common questions a viewer or reader looking to be well-informed asks themselves. There are almost no independent media in terms of not having a corporation behind it. In some countries, it could be the state media controlled by the government that pushes their own agenda.
That is why it isn’t very easy to find news sources on the internet that are entirely unbiased. Essentially, it’s the viewer who decides if the news source is unbiased.
Research and survey companies routinely ask the public to declare which networks they trust and which they feel have a biased agenda.
But if you want to determine if a news source is unbiased for yourself, here’s what you should consider:
Focus on the Truth
It’s easy to say that an outlet is just about the facts, but they don’t always show the full picture. Facts in an accurate context are how news sources should deliver the truth to their audience.
As we mentioned, there are very few independent news sources in terms of ownership. Therefore, you should look for independence in journalists who aren’t biased due to specific influences and connections.
Fairness and Impartiality
What someone considers fair, someone else might not. When it comes to news sources, that means giving both sides of a particular issue a voice.
There are limitations in what can be considered a valid argument but providing a voice to opposing sides is essential. An impartial approach is crucial. News outlets have a responsibility not to manipulate a reader or viewer’s understanding of a topic.
Responsibility Towards Humanity
In a world full of clickbait headlines, a commitment towards promoting positive change in the world is also the responsibility of a news source. Many stories only exist for the traffic, which can often cause more harm than good, in terms of informing an audience.
Finally, a news source needs to be accountable for its reporting. If they don’t correct their errors and apologize to the public for misinformation, they are likely biased and serve an agenda.
The three news sources we’ve listed above provide an unbiased news source you can verify by giving them a chance. But when it comes to traditional newspapers, printed and online, it can be challenging to find a newspaper company without a left-leaning or right-leaning bias.
It’s often the special-interest publications and magazines that provide contextual analysis and accurate information on various topics.
An example would be Foreign Affairs, a foreign policy magazine that has been published since 1970. It comes out twice a month, and it’s a reliable magazine for readers interested in both global and domestic affairs.
The surveys conducted show that PBS News is still the most reliable news service. You can also tune into C-Span if you want to listen to and watch government hearings and judge politicians’ words without them being presented to you by a media outlet.
Also, if you want to review a non-partisan think tank’s research, Pew Research publishes unbiased research regarding news, politics, technology, and lots more.
If you log in to your YouTube account, Twitter, or even Instagram, odds are you’ll see a post or a video from an alternative news source in your feed. Many independent creators online host their own news shows and present them to often large audiences.
These are not news organizations or verified news outlets. Even though some of the people posting have good intentions and present accurate information, they are usually biased and come with a perspective they want to share with others.
According to the University of California, Merced, there are telltale signs of whether a news source is reputable or not. For example, if you see a website URL that ends in “com.co” that is often a fake version of an official news outlet.
If there is a lack of author attribution, that’s also a bad sign and could indicate that the story lacks verification. Poor web design and letters all in caps signal unprofessionalism as well. But there are two major indicators that a news source is biased.
Firstly, if a story makes you really angry, you’re better off checking another source to verify the information. This should be differentiated from a righteous feeling of anger or sadness to a world event. We’re talking about misleading stories that are there only to generate revenue.
The second is if a known or supposedly reputable news source ignores or chooses not to report on an essential or impactful story. And even if they do, it’s in a partial, insubstantial manner. When it comes to corporate media, the lack of coverage often speaks more about bias than anything they report on.
Lastly, users should be aware of ‘Opinion’ pieces and sources. Opinion pieces are typically not based on facts which is why they’re labeled as such. Any reputable news source occasionally gets the facts wrong. With mounting pressure to be the first to report a story, journalists often publish stories before all of the information has come to light. This is why, even with a trusted news source, you should always check the sources (typically listed at the bottom of the story). There are plenty of examples in today’s media when someone neglected to use a reputable news source (or simply sites anonymous source). Although these are sometimes accurate, one should take caution.
Overall, it’s important to mention that no news source gets it right one-hundred percent of the time. When we look for unbiased news sources, we’re looking for those with the most accuracy over time. We’re also looking for those that cover stories that do not fit an agenda. In other words, they share news stories that support facts over opinions.
There are a lot of watchdog sites that claim to investigate news stories and bias. However, some of these are backed by major corporations and others that consistently support bias leanings. The best line of defense against biased information is the consumer.
Finding an unbiased newspaper or news source can seem like an impossible task. Partly, because human beings are rarely able to be unbiased about anything. It requires active effort to report on an event or situation completely impartially.
The issue with news sources is that even if journalists can’t be 100% unbiased, their audience might find it helpful if they’d disclose their biases and be upfront about them.
But that’s not likely to happen. Therefore, it’s the audience’s job to read multiple news sources and different viewpoints before making a judgment call.
What are your preferred news sources online? Let us know in the comments section below.
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