In September, we released the findings of our August 2020 Blind Bias Survey, in which over 2,000 people across the political spectrum rated the media bias of five different news outlets blindly, seeing only their content and story choice but not the name of the news publication. Below are visualizations of the data we collected.
In a Blind Bias Survey, we ask people to self-report their own political bias (Left, Lean Left, Center, Lean Right, or Right) and then present them with content from media outlets. We show them numerous front page headlines and the first few paragraphs from two articles from a given media outlet, stripping them of any identifying information, and ask respondents to rate the outlet’s bias.
While our Blind Bias Surveys are a uniquely powerful and fair way to rate the bias of news sources without giving more weight to one group over another, they alone do not always capture the full picture. They are essentially snap shots of the top stories on one day. That misses the bias that may show itself in other stories, in pictures, and on other days.
We had roughly equal numbers of people who identified as having a personal bias of Lean Left, Center, or Lean Right take the survey (529, 605, and 595, respectively), but much less people with a Left or Right bias take the survey (233 on the Left and just 153 on the Right). Therefore, the charts below show normalized data.
We calculated the data so that equal weight is given to the responses of people from each political group, so that the Lean Left, Center, and Lean Right folks aren’t over-represented. These graphics show how the majority of all survey respondents perceive each outlet, if we’d had an equal number of people from each group rating them. (For more detailed charts showing how liberals and conservatives rated these outlets differently, jump to the bottom of this page here.)
While the Blind Bias Survey is an excellent tool because those being surveyed aren’t biased by the publication’s brand or pre-existing biases about it, it is important to note that majority rule does not determine AllSides Media Bias Ratings.
When we apply these findings to our ratings, we examine survey data by looking at pluralities within bias groups, as well as average ratings across all bias groups. In addition, these surveys are not the only methodology we use. Final bias ratings are typically arrived at via a combination of methods, including surveys, Editorial Reviews (conducted by a team that includes a balance of people from the Left, Center and Right of the political spectrum), third party data, and independent research.
How People Across All Bias Groups Rated Media Outlets (Normalized Data)
The Epoch Times: Majority of Respondents Rate The Epoch Times as Center
Just under 65% of those surveyed said they believe The Epoch Times’ content to be Center. Before the Summer 2020 Blind Bias Survey, we had this source rated as Right. Seeing the result of the survey prompted an Editorial Review of Epoch Times, in which the AllSides team came to a general consensus that its content is Lean Right.
While The Epoch Times’ writing is largely Center, we determined it warrants a Lean Right rating because of a slight right-wing lean in story choice, as a significant percentage of stories show conservatives in a more positive light and the left in a more negative light.
BBC: BBC Exhibits a Slight Lean Left Bias
By a slight margin, BBC received more Lean Left votes than Center votes. Before the survey, we rated BBC as Center on the Media Bias Chart. The AllSides team then conducted an Editorial Review of BBC. AllSides concluded BBC’s Media Bias Rating remains Center, but the team unanimously agreed that BBC shows some Lean Left bias, mostly via story choice. For more detail see our full rating for BBC.
The New York Times: 68% of Respondents say The New York Times Shows a Lean Left or Left Bias
More than two-thirds of those surveyed responded that they saw a Lean Left bias in the New York Times reporting and story choice. This lines up with the current media bias rating of New York Times as Lean Left.
Bloomberg: Majority Sees Bloomberg as Lean Left Bias
Over 63% of those surveyed notice an overall Lean Left bias in Bloomberg’s story choice and reporting. After assessing the results of the survey, we moved Bloomberg from Center to Lean Left, which lines up more accurately with our internal assessment of Bloomberg, as well as the survey feedback we received.
The AP: Majority see The AP as Center
Over half of respondents said they believed AP to have a media bias rating of Center. But because of the presence of a high amount of Lean Left and Left bias responses, as well as frequent community feedback from those who say AP deserves a Lean Left rating, the AllSides team conducted an Editorial Review of AP. During this process, we found that AP’s bias remains Center, but some articles display Lean Left bias. You can read more here about the types of bias that The AP exhibits. While we kept AP’s rating as Center, AP Politics and Fact Check have been moved to Lean Left due to consistent leftward bias.
What can you take away from this information? The media landscape is changing rapidly due to increased polarization. Several major source ratings were recently changed after Blind Bias Surveys and Editorial Reviews. In addition, prevalent media bias means it is important to always consume a balanced diet of news from sources on each side of the political spectrum.
We separate our community into 5 groups and ask them to report their own personal bias: Left, Lean Left, Center, Lean Right, and Right. You can see below how many responses we got from each group and how each group they rated the bias of news sources. These graphs illustrate the ideological diversity of the survey respondents.
How to Read These Charts:
The horizontal X-axis shows the self-reported personal bias of the respondent.
The vertical Y-axis displays how many of the respondents in each bias category thought that the media outlet had a specific bias.
So, for example, the graph below shows that 49 people who personally rated their political bias as Left saw The Epoch Times as Lean Right; 245 people who personally identified as Lean Left saw The Epoch Times as Center; 77 people who personally identified as Center saw The Epoch Times as Lean Right; and so on.
Check out all of the charts showing how people of different political leanings rated BBC, The New York Times, Bloomberg, and The Associated Press.
Many people who say their personal bias is Lean Left, Center or Lean Right see BBC as Lean Left or Center. The majority of people on the Right view BBC as Lean Left, and the majority of people on the Left see BBC as Center.
A majority of people across all bias groups view the New York Times as either Lean Left or Left.
A majority of people across nearly all bias groups see BBC as Lean Left or Left.
A majority of people across all bias groups largely see AP as Center.
Rick Wytmar is a Content and Research Assistant at AllSides.com. He has a Lean Left bias.
This piece was reviewed by Julie Mastrine, AllSides Director of Marketing (Lean Right bias) and Managing Editor Henry A. Brechter (Center bias).