Today, the lines between news, opinions and other forms of written content are increasingly blurred within the media. A recent study from the American Press Institute says 32% of news readers struggle to differentiate between hard news and opinionated commentary.
Using clear labels to separate news, opinion and analysis content is useful in avoiding this issue, but it’s not a universal practice. And publishers that do use labels don’t always use them correctly.
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Previously, our balanced news curation had reflected the original publisher’s labeling of content as either news, opinion, or analysis, rather than using our own judgments to apply a label.
Starting today, we’ll begin to analyze content more closely to confirm whether the publisher’s label is accurate, and will sometimes change it on our website to more precisely reflect the style of journalism in the article at hand, even if it contradicts what the publisher says.
Here’s how we’ll analyze and assign these labels to curated content going forward.
How AllSides Decides to Defect From the Original Publisher’s Labels
In order for us to defect from the original publisher’s labeling of a “news” article and label it as “analysis”, we must confirm the following:
- The article and/or headline includes at least two uses of subjective perception not supported by fact or not clearly supplemented by the writer’s prior reporting/knowledge.
In order for us to defect from the original publisher’s labeling of a news or analysis article and label it as “opinion”, we must confirm the following:
- The article includes at least two examples of the author clearly conveying a personal opinion, rather than reporting facts or providing analysis.
We won’t publicly document these specific examples for each article, but if you have a question or concern about how we’ve applied labels, email us with feedback and we’ll get back to you. (We’re a small team, so please allow us a day or two for us to see and respond to your message!)
Publishers Vary in How (Or If) They Label Content
Different news outlets and sources have vastly different ways of labeling and organizing their content. We’ve identified four separate types of publishers in this regard.
Publishers that use distinct news, opinion and analysis labels: Some publishers do use distinct news, opinion and analysis labels to differentiate between various kinds of journalism. We’ll continue to reflect those labels, unless our analysis contradicts them.
Publishers that don't use any labels: Many publishers don’t use distinct news, opinion and analysis labels to differentiate between various kinds of journalism. For these outlets, we’ll make case-by-case judgments based on the same evaluative criteria described above.
Publishers that post only analysis, but don't label it as such: We’ve determined that some sources, such as Vox, Reason and FiveThirtyEight, exclusively publish news analysis (without using labels), based on an examination of each site’s content, About page and stated objectives (if featured on their site). We’ll label content from these and similar publishers as analysis, unless we find it contains two or more examples of personal opinion, or if it lacks analysis/opinion altogether, in which case it’d be marked as news.
Publishers that only post opinion content, but don't label it as such: We’ve also found that some sources, such as Jacobin Magazine and American Spectator, exclusively publish opinion content. We’ll label all content from these publishers as opinion, unless our examination finds an article to instead consist of analysis or news reporting.
It’s important to note that many news sites don’t use explicit “news” labels because the vast majority of their content is meant to be taken as news reporting. Most of these sites instead group content by subject. Ex: US, Politics, Entertainment, World, Tech, Science, etc.
How AllSides Defines the Differences Between News, Analysis and Opinion
So what are the exact differences between news, analysis and opinion?
Here’s a clean summary of the differences between the three, per the Speaker News Journal:
News: Events happened.
Analysis: Events that happened could/can be understood this way.
Opinion: Here’s what I think about events that happened.
A bit more on how we define each:
News: Writers base a story on facts and insights gathered through reporting, interviews and research. News reports often include facts sourced only by the reporter themself — journalists often report observations and other “first-person” facts as part of a news story, even if not yet confirmed by a second source. When possible, always try to confirm any fact with at least two or more sources.
Example of how a news article appears on AllSides.com:
Analysis: When writers base an article around perceptions of the subject matter. This goes beyond readily available information, and may focus solely on educated conclusions instead of hard facts. The writer may offer viewpoints, suggestions, insinuations and predictions that are not immediately supported by facts, but may be reasonably reached based on the writer’s perceptions. Analysis is typically an author’s fact-based, personalized perspective on an issue, which can sometimes explicitly reflect support or disdain for a specific agenda.
Here’s an example of an Analysis label on AllSides.com:
Opinion: When writers construct an article based solely on their personal feelings and experiences. These articles may include examples of news and analysis, but the narrative is rooted in the author’s opinion, rather than hard fact.
This is how an Opinion label appears on our site:
We also frequently curate “fact check” articles from throughout the political spectrum. We’ll only label something as a fact check in our own curation if the original publisher did so first. It will look like this:
It may seem like a complicated process, but we’ve built this system with one goal in mind: helping you, the reader. We strive to be a guiding force in a muddled media climate, exposing you to diverse — and clearly labeled — content, empowering you to decide for yourself how you feel about issues.
This system was created and is maintained by the AllSides news team and Managing Editor Henry A. Brechter. Henry has a Center bias.