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From Wikipedia I found out about the Neutral Point of View. This article argues about its implementation by Wikipedia:

Greenstein and Zhu’s findings also suggest that while Wikipedia’s collection of 70,000 articles on U.S. politics is, on average, converging over time toward NPOV

The same article argues that reaching NPOV is much harder when illustrating history or politics:

Maintaining what Wikipedia calls “the neutral point of view” (or NPOV) is relatively easy when writing about science topics or otherwise objectively verifiable subjects. But in other topics, such as politics and history, bias and controversy inevitably arise.

Reaching a NPOV version for a subject may be quite hard as illustrated by this article.

I am wondering if there is any US media channel that advertises NPOV as a value or an objective related to its articles. Of course, I am interested in those that also cover political news.

Question: Are there any media channels (TV, radio, online newspaper) that encourage Neutral Point of View usage?


From the comments I understand that NPOV cannot be obtained for a specific article. However, the first reference indicate that Wikipedia converges towards NPOV at aggregate level:

while Wikipedia’s political content may be trending toward neutrality in the aggregate, individual articles may fall anywhere along the spectrum of political bias.

So, while it is impossible to have media articles reaching NPOV at individual level, they can theoretically reach it at aggregate level (I find allsides.com as a relevant reference for this).

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    Just wait for StackExchange Channel to be launched... – Evargalo Apr 16 '18 at 15:25
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    How do you determine where neutral is? I imagine most media outlets think of themselves as "neutral", and those having different viewpoints as biased one way or another. – jamesqf Apr 16 '18 at 18:53
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    Almost all U.S. mainstream media, except Fox News and Sinclair Broadcasting, seek to promote a NPOV, and ironically, the only ones that don't (Fox News and Sinclair Broadcasting) are the ones who most prominently claim to be doing so. – ohwilleke Apr 16 '18 at 19:06
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    @Alexei The problem is that the article seems to view neutrality as "somewhere inbetween Democratic and Republican views", but that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. In some points, one of the sides may simply be right. In another point, both sides may be wrong. – Thern Apr 16 '18 at 19:15
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    Example: A party influenced local outlet: 10 minutes of "It's outrageous how B treat this new law! we'll riot!" B party unfluenced local outlet: 12 minutes of "This law was already de facto used, A are just stirrers! we'll riot against!". 9000 miles away news outlet from non influential country: 2 minute news header "Strong confrontation at the house of N country when the representatives started shouting at eachother due to this new law.Our reporter will interview the spokesperson of each at 15:00 on the international news channel, now, onto the sports.". – CptEric Apr 24 '18 at 9:51
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No. The United States does not have any state sponsored media (PBS and NPR are closest, but they also work on donations from both corporations and viewers).

These media make their money by selling advertisement space to run with the news, which means they have to both incentivize viewership and cater to interests of their sponsors (google "boycott the sponsors of" for an idea of how much this happens to news media). This means that "Just the Facts" style reporting does not work for these companies, as they are not big crowd drawers and really don't engage the audience. Enter the talking heads that scream over each other for every news story while the anchor has to try and play ref. These actually do cause interest because when two people are yelling at each other in TV, the viewer wants to know why.

That is not to say that their are not News media organizations that are more NPOV. I know Christian Science Monitor has a very respected neutral coverage standard (Despite the name... the original founder was deeply religious and insisted the word "Christian" stay in the name of the paper as a sell condition) and there are sights such as AllSides™ which compare left, neutral, and right articles of the same story side by side, but they are more aggregating specific stories from other sights with limited opinion pieces of their own, however, I'm not sure if their ranking system is correct... or at the very least, not outdated.

The best way to consume American News media is to find a few media organizations that you like and compare their articles and the facts presented. Generally, if Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, and ABC say the same thing, then it likely happened. Also read the whole article... typically, if it's a News piece and not an opinion piece, then they will have some facts that support the other side of the controversy at the very end of the article so they can claim they are not ignoring these opinions. Sometimes in News, it's not what you report, but what you do not report that informs a Biased opinion.

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    "State-sponsored media" and "NPOV media" are not the same thing. – F1Krazy Apr 16 '18 at 16:21
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    @F1Krazy: Not saying that... BBC is often accused of being left wing. My point that there is no public funding of news media in the United States, so all U.S. Media companies are sponsored by advertisers who can have significant influence on stories by threat of removed funding. Coupled with a lack of market demand, this leads to a significant cause of biasing media between network marketing to lucrative audiences and threats of advertiser boycotts by people with agendas. – hszmv Apr 16 '18 at 16:29
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    The domain all-sides.org is unregistred. Do you mean allsides.com? – Philipp Apr 16 '18 at 16:30
  • @Philipp: Yes. My bad. – hszmv Apr 16 '18 at 16:36
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    You know you can edit your answer, do you? – Philipp Apr 16 '18 at 21:31
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I would argue that a Neutral Point of View is not even definable in most topics. More concrete, it is only definable in topics which are fully understood. You can write a neutral article about Maxwell's Equations of electromagnetism, because the physics behind is well understood. However, if the topic is about historical persons or events, nothing is ever completely clear, and interpretations vary largely.

Note that being neutral does not mean "take no stance". There is plenty of scientifical research to take a clear stance that Flat-Earthers are in fact wrong; rejecting their assumptions is still NPOV, and the only POV that is actually neutral.

But for most cases, things are more difficult. Major problems already arise with the selection of what to report. It is not only "lie by omission" - by the very fact that I have opinions, expectations about how the world is working, and a personal bias that addresses more importance to some events than others, I am unable to create a truly neutral version, or even recognize a NPOV as neutral.

Take, as an example, the Middle East conflict. I can report about poor Palestine children in Gaza, and show Israel only as a state with ruthless politicians that order military strikes and put people behind a large wall while continuing to allow settlements in the occupied territories. Many people will feel well informed by only seeing this, and compelled to root for the Palestine cause. I can also report about Jewish refugees from Europe that built a democratic nation with hard labor, and Palestine leaders that seek out to destroy Israel, as well as inciting young radicals to carry out terror attacks on Jews. People will still feel well informed by this, now rooting for the Israeli cause.

You now may say "so report about both", but this still is no neutral view. A third group might (rightfully) say: "This is only presenting conflict, but look how many people and organizations over there try to make a peaceful coexistence possible. You never mentioned them, you only view the antagonists."

So I compose an article that shows the pro-Palestine view and the pro-Israeli view, and finishes with showing how coexistence is possible. Am I neutral now? No. Now I have presented a story of how nationalists and religious fanatics prevent peace, and promoted the beneficial effect of tolerance - a classical left-liberal idea, but this is still ideology.

Note that even the order of presenting the events is of relevance. I could first present coexistence, then show the antagonists of both sides, and now I have subverted the message to the folly of trying to be tolerant in a cruel world. This is a nihilistic view - and nihilism is not neutral as well.

So by choosing what is relevant, assigning weigth to different events, and choosing an order of what to report first and what to report later, I already form opinion, even if I don't want to, even if I don't even realize. Apart from undebated scientific research, this is a consequence of our pattern-making mind we probably can't avoid.

To make things worse, there is also the Dunning-Kruger effect, which states that we are often unable to see that we are not competent enough to correctly evaluate information or situations. Thus we may recognize biases if they deviate from our own opinions, but we are nearly unable to recognize biases if they are in line with our opinions, because the choice of what to report, and the conclusions drawn, seem so natural to us that we feel that they are absolutely logical, rather than just the train of thought from an already biased start.

So - sorry, there is not much hope for NPOV reports about politics, history etc. due to our inherent shortcomings as humans. We can try to be as neutral as possible. We can try to verify as much as we can. But we will probably never be perfect.

  • Could we agree that NPOV is an ideal that we should subscribe to, like honesty? Like a 12th commandment: Honour thy NPOV and thy days upon the earth will at least be honorable. – Aethelbald Apr 16 '18 at 18:58
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    @Aethelbald That is a difficult question. Look at this thought experiment: If an NPOV would suggest that it is best for mankind to get extinct, should I promote this view? I would disagree. – Thern Apr 16 '18 at 19:11
  • @them, you haven't seen the argument yet and I have days when I might find it persuasive. – Aethelbald Apr 16 '18 at 19:22
  • Geometric method: suppose we have four photos of the same building in a city, all taken from miles away, one photo from the north, the others from the south, east, and west. We can infer from each photo what most the building actually must look like. If each photo is wide angle and shows buildings for blocks around, we can even infer somewhat less about each of those buildings. Our news perspectives are more like inferring the shapes of those outer buildings, plus various obscuring factors, like photos taken in different years, with varying weather, or with skilled or careless retouching. – agc Apr 17 '18 at 15:15
  • @agc The example is not very good; a building resembles a mathematical equation much more than a political or historical question. After all, you know that you can create a perfect 3D image by taking photos from all four sides, so an NPOV is definable. For political/historical questions, you don't even know if you have taken each important detail into account, and you are unable to make accurate predictions due to a mixture of not knowing all details and spontaneous random effects. In selecting the alleged important details, you already dilute the NPOV, but you can't avoid this. – Thern Apr 17 '18 at 15:43
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They would all claim NPOV and it is a matter of opinion as to whether or not their failures are policy driven. I would argue that they promote NPOV by living NPOV, or not.

USA: In my opinion National Public Radio (NPR) and C-Span really try hard to achieve NPOV. But, there's lot's money to be made in feeding your audience's craving for outrage, hence Fox News and CNN cannot be described as NPOV even though they may claim it. The US newspapers are always in trouble on this issue but the NYT tries hard, as does the WAPO (not hard enough, imo) and even the Washington Times. Websites? You have to get yourself a balanced diet. I read Memeorandum first,it's the best aggregator, and I subscribe to The Economist and Talking Points Memo. Bloomberg is good, too.

UK Bonus: The BBC has global radio and TV channels, and domestic channels, that are required to be NPOV. All the big UK domestic channels are pretty much NPOV because the Beeb sets the tone, that's including Sky News, which is another Murdoch organization like Fox News. The Russian Channel RTV also has a licence in the UK, and they're a laughing stock, but I'm sure they would claim NPOV.

  • NPR is NPOV only if your POV matches theirs. I'm not sure of how much they "try", but the result is far from neutral. Their podcasts have a heavy left bias, though some of them I can see they honestly do try to be neutral. They just can't get over their own implicit biases in reporters and editors and producers. – user4012 Apr 16 '18 at 16:44
  • Hello again, @user4012. How do you know, as in measure objectively, bias? I am quite sure you are right to some degree about their bias, but how are we to know in a repeatable, verifiable sense? And how would you assess Fox News by your criteria. Fox has reporters, editors and producers, too. – Aethelbald Apr 16 '18 at 16:52
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    @Aethelbald that is really the core of why NPOV isn't a very convincing assessment in my opinion: A quality is asserted as negligible, but a reasonable way to estimate it hasn't been provided. – user9389 Apr 16 '18 at 17:57

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