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How to Overcome News and Media Bias

The Doe Team

by The Doe Team

| March 8, 2022

Use these questions to do a media bias check, spot information biases and develop a balanced perspective on key issues.

Biases can cloud our judgments, leading us to make rash decisions or take discriminatory actions.

We must develop the ability to identify various types of biases and validate a claim by doing our own research.

But how can you tell whether a source is presenting all the facts in an unbiased manner?

How can you spot information biases in what you read so you don’t unknowingly step into an echo chamber?

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How to Identify Media Bias in What You Read

Detecting biases in the content we consume can be challenging, especially if it comes from outlets we are conditioned to trust.

Be wary of heavily opinionated sources that present a one-sided argument, use unsubstantiated claims, disguise opinions as facts, use extreme language or present highly selective facts that skew toward a specific outcome.

Take any news, research or fact-based article with a grain of salt if it doesn’t identify the author. Also, beware of content that’s entertainment focused (e.g., created as satire or parody) or used as a disguise to market a product or service.

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Media Bias Examples

Knowing what a media bias may look like can help you identify it more easily. Here are some common types to look out for:

  • Partisan bias: The author’s political view skews the story.
  • Demographic bias: The content favors a certain race, gender, ethnicity, culture or economic class.
  • Corporate bias: The business or advertising interest of the media outlet influences how the story is written.
  • “Big story” bias: The writer’s perception of an event causes them to miss important details or misrepresent facts.
  • Neutrality bias: In an attempt to appear unbiased, a media outlet omits or misrepresents the facts.

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How to Do a Media Bias Check

Advancement in technology has democratized information dissemination. While this can help expand our knowledge and worldview, the lower barrier to entry makes it easy to publish biased information.

Here are some questions to help you do a media bias check:

  • Who owns the source(s) that inform the article?
  • What businesses advertise with the publisher?
  • Is this a piece of sponsored content?
  • Does the content have a political slant?
  • Who is paying for the website?
  • Did the author consider all the facts and present both sides of the argument fairly?
  • What’s the tone and the type of language used?
  • Did the author back the claims with facts and evidence?
  • Is the content worded in an attempt to oversimplify or generalize?
  • Did the author provide links or citations to the evidence?
  • Did the author use trusted and unbiased sources?
  • Are the sources associated with political parties or special interest groups?
  • Is there anything missing that keeps you wondering?
  • Is the author trying to pull some emotional triggers to skew perception?

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How to Detect News Bias and Find Unbiased News Sources

Many online articles link to news sources as evidence. But it has become increasingly challenging to find unbiased news sources in today’s polarizing environment. If you’re reading a piece that links to a news article, make sure to check it for news bias.

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How to Do a News Bias Check

News outlets may promote biases through story selection, omission of facts, source selection, story placement, page layout, image selection, word choice and tone.

Here are some questions to help you do a news bias check:

  • What’s the news outlet’s political stance?
  • Does the website stand to gain anything by publishing the story?
  • Is the article a fair and balanced representation of the event or issue?
  • From whose point of view is the story written?
  • Is the story framed in a way that favors a particular point of view?
  • How does the news outlet decide which issues or events to cover?
  • Does the use of words and tone affect the audience’s perception of the issue?
  • Is the conclusion based on some unchallenged assumptions?
  • What sources did the journalist use?
  • Do the sources represent a diverse point of view on the issue?
  • Was anything (e.g., quotes) taken out of context?
  • Is there diversity within the team that investigated and reported the story?
  • Are there double standards at work?
  • Is the commentary skewed by stereotyping?
  • Is the use of images a fair representation of the situation?

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Counter Media Bias With an Investigative Mindset

To navigate today’s complex media landscape, we must develop a habit of examining all the sources and identifying information biases.

Understand what may motivate the author to present an issue in a certain way. Consider if there’s a conflict of interest in how a website or news outlet represents a story.

Also, look at how different websites and publications report the same issue or news story. The insights can help you gain a diverse perspective and uncover critical information that could be omitted intentionally or unintentionally by an author.

Do you have a habit of questioning the content you read online? How can you become more critical of what you read?

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