Evaluating Media

As a followup to my post from a couple of weeks ago on supporting good journalism, I thought I’d post a link to a website I discovered a year or so ago. You may have seen the graphics from this website on social media. The site’s owner has developed a valuable methodology for evaluating news media.

When looking at an article or post, it is important to be able to evaluate the reliability of the information. I’m sure most of use do this intuitively to some degree. For example, I know to take articles from Huffington Post with a small grain of salt. And that Occupy Democrats or The Rebel are mostly political rallying points with little news value.

Venessa Oterro’s website, Ad Fontes Media (Latin for “from the source”), examines two important elements of media outlets. The first is the amount of left-right bias. The second is a measurement of the news value of the content. The site is regularly updated with revisions to the chart. Oterro also discusses how she develops her rankings and posts insights into why various sites earn their ranks.

The site’s content is, unfortunately, almost entirely American with a smattering of British media. I think, however, that most people can derive their own evaluations of Canadian media from her analysis.

Journalism and Democracy; Taking a Stand

Today, newspapers across America are answering a call by the Boston Globe to run editorials denouncing Donald Trump’s attack on journalism.

It is an important issue. We may not always be happy with the news we read. We may not always agree with the opinions expressed in editorials. There will always be bias in journalism and, of course, we will run across articles that do not align with our own biases. There will be times when we will be fuming mad because we don’t agree with something we read. This is okay and is just as it should be. Journalism should be something that challenges us and asks us to think critically.

It is entirely up to us to understand the difference between news and opinion. It is up to us to understand that bias exists, to be understanding of it in other people, and to be willing to see it in our own beliefs, opinions, and actions. We can, in fact, learn to appreciate difference of opinion. In doing so, we encourage building better solutions.

We build sustainable democracies by ensuring the free movement and discussion of ideas. That includes, of course, the challenge of standing up for the right to speak opinions which differ from our own. It also includes denouncing efforts to weaken journalism through intimidation, threats, and bullying.

Following are a few links to editorials including one from Canada’s National Observer:

National Observer (Canada)

Boston Globe

The New Yorker

The New York Times

The Atlantic