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POL SCI 310: The American Presidency

News Databases

bias, noun
prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair
bias, verb
cause to feel or show inclination or prejudice for or against someone or something

Politics in Periodicals

Sources of information may contain bias -- especially political bias. Media can be geared towards one wing or another to meet the ideologies of their readers. Professional journalists and reporters try to adhere to journalistic objectivity where they present the facts and allow the reader to decide. However, even in non-partisan periodicals and scholarly journals you can find opinion and bias. Identifying bias will help you determine if a source is appropriate to use. If the article content is objective and cites factual evidence, it may be a good source even if the publication leans one way or another on the political spectrum.

The following list of resources is not intended to be comprehensive. Do your research to determine if a source leans one way or another.

Liberal/Left/Progressive Leaning Non-partisan/Moderate Conservative/Right Leaning
The Boston Globe (newspaper) Christian Science Monitor (newspaper) New York Post (newspaper)
Los Angeles Times (newspaper) Chronicle of Higher Education (newspaper) Wall Street Journal (newspaper)
New York Times (newspaper) Newsweek (magazine) Washington Times (newspaper)
Washington Post (newspaper) Time (magazine) The American Spectator (magazine)
The American Prospect (magazine) U.S. News & World Report (magazine) National Review (magazine)
Mother Jones (magazine) Business Week (magazine) The New American (magazine)
The Nation (magazine) The Economist (magazine) The Weekly Standard (magazine)
Politics and Society (journal) Public Opinion Quarterly (journal) The National Interest (magazine)
Science and Society (journal) The Washington Quarterly (journal) Heritage Foundation (policy think tank)
Center for American Progress (policy think tank) Brookings Institution (policy think tank)  Manhattan Institute (policy think tank)

Find the Source!

Find the source of the information you're evaluating. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who owns/produces the source?
  • Who advertises in the source? Are the advertisements appropriate for the source?
  • Is there a political slant in the content?
  • Does the content contain all the facts or at least present both sides of an argument fairly?
  • What type of language is being used? Does the author use strong language or hyperbole?
  • Do they back up their argument with factual evidence? Can you see where they got their evidence through links or citations?

To find the answer to these questions, you need to read the text carefully and you may have to do some background/fact-checking research to help determine if the source is reliable or biased.

Types of Bias (Click to expand each section)

Example: fake news. Advertisers try to make money by sponsoring content.

Example: images are powerful. Look at how the image portrays the subject.

 

Example: word choice. The type of language used can influence how people react to the information.

Example: information portrayed in a frame or story format. Usually framed around a conflict.
Example: information is fast paced. Sometimes the information is reported before all the facts are available and checked.

 

Example: information not included or incomplete. While it's not possible to cover every detail, there shouldn't be gaps in the information. This type of bias can be difficult to identify unless you read a variety of sources across an issue. For instance, if the information presented is extremely or solely one-sided, that may be an indication of omission.

 

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