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If I say a news organization leans left or right, am I the one who's biased or are these news organizations in fact biased?

There should be a factual, documented answer to my question--but if the ultimate answer is all just opinion-based, I apologize in advance. But can you corroborate your answer?

Frankly, I think the ultimate answer to everything I ask here is that it is all up to me as an individual to make my assessment of news organizations when I peruse their content. That's what I've been living by. I figured long ago that it is totally up to me to accept or reject anything I hear/read based on my own preconceived notions. Basically, each person needs to know for themselves where they stand. If that is my answer, I'd love to see others confirm that with legitimate documents that corroborate this.

So... is bias evident (from me) if I use the term "[right- or] left-leaning communications agencies" when referring to certain news organizations, or are they in fact biased?

NOTE - I've shortened this question to focus on handling just the conceptual or more abstract side of my concerns, and split off the other more practical part here: Can these specific American news organizations be respectfully classified as either right- or left-leaning?

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    Should the tag “Fake news” be used in a question mentioning this list of media organisations? Maybe some individual outlets may deserve criticism but for this overall list I don’t think it’s appropriate. – Andrew Grimm May 7 at 4:26
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    One issue with comparing positions on the political spectrum in different countries is that the location of the centre is different. For example, the centre in current US politics is somewhere to the right of that of UK politics. – Steve Melnikoff May 7 at 7:38
  • I'm sticking specifically to the American news media to keep us focused. Thank you for your comments. Note I had to remove a potion and break it off to another thread to satisfy moderators. Now I'm waiting for them to re-open the post. – ShieldOfSalvation May 10 at 0:08
  • FYI: I've voted to reopen yesterday, although this didn't help much (the reopen review failed with 3 "leave closed" votes). It doesn't matter too much because the answers below are good enough already. – Fizz May 11 at 20:02
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This is the best statement of fact on the topic which I've found:

When determining bias, there isn’t any true scientific formula that is 100% objective. There are objective measures that can be calculated, but ultimately there will be some degree of subjective judgement to determine these.

This statement comes from a web site named https://mediabiasfactcheck.com. While their methodology to determining bias seems well organized and documented, they acknowledge there will always be differing opinions with regard to if a given media organization, person, or even story is biased.

None the less, it seems that by explicitly setting a goal of being purely a source of factual news, and not opinion or analysis, a precious few media organizations manage to achieve something close to a "center" position, though perhaps a better term would be "balanced". Those organizations tend to report just facts, and refrain from analysis describing why something happened.

There are two media organizations on your list which generally are considered highly factual and near the center: the Associated Press (AP), and Reuters. Reuters for example has explicit editorial policy intended to eliminate opinion and emotionally loaded words from their reporting. You may find it interesting: https://www.thomsonreuters.com/en/about-us/trust-principles.html

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  • Thank you for your answer. Note I had to remove a potion and break it off to another thread as otherwise my question would remain closed. – ShieldOfSalvation May 10 at 0:05
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I'm not aware of any mainstream media that explicitly categorizes themselves as left or right, but I'd like to point you at the Media Bias Chart (version 5.1, currently, and there's an interactive version which will let you zoom in).

Per their methodology page:

During this project, nearly 1800 individual articles and TV news shows were rated by at least three analysts with different political views (left, right and center). We had 20 analysts, each analyst having analyzed about 370 articles and about 17 TV shows. Each analyst rated approximately three articles from each of the over 100 news sources available for viewing on the Chart. As a result, we have nearly 7,000 individual ratings.

The multi-person ranking per article was designed to minimize the impact of any one person’s political bias on the published ranking, and the breadth of coverage by each analyst over all of the sources was designed to enhance each analyst’s familiarity with sources across the spectrum.

I haven't gone through to look up the specific sources you asked about, but you can go evaluate them on your own. After all, even if you minimize opinion, "left" and "right" are relative terms. Knowing how far to one side or another a given source is just as important to evaluating it (if not moreso) than knowing which side it's on.

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  • Thank you for your answer. Note I had to remove a potion and break it off to another thread to satisfy moderators. – ShieldOfSalvation May 10 at 0:07

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