Understanding what media outlets are most popular in a community can give us a glimpse into the media landscape and types of news that people are turning to for information.
We examined search data to determine the top media outlets searched in each U.S. state in 2022, using Google Trends data. Then, using AllSides Media Bias Ratings™, we determined approximately what percentage of media outlets searched in your state are on the Left, Center, or Right. Here’s what was uncovered.
These findings are quite similar to what we found when we conducted the same analysis for the year of 2021. However, there were some differences from the previous year, largely in favor of outlets on the left. Mainly, some states in the Northern Great Plains searched more for outlets on the left in 2022, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Nebraska. In 2021, each of these states searched for Right-rated outlets more, as a percent of outlets analyzed. View the 2021 analysis here.
The media landscape is largely dominated by left-wing outlets. Many outlets many would consider to be “mainstream” – such as The New York Times (Lean Left), ABC News (Lean Left), CNN (Left), NBC News (Lean Left) – are rated by AllSides as being Left or Lean Left. Not as many outlets analyzed were on the right, simply because they were searched less and didn’t meet the criteria to be included (see below for methodology). Furthermore, some major outlets, such as The Associated Press and NPR, moved from a Center to Lean Left Media Bias Rating in 2022, which may have contributed to the leftward shift among many states.
This analysis measured 19 outlets on the left, 6 rated Center, and 12 on the right, all of which are national news outlets on the Media Bias Chart. The reason for disparity in left and right outlets is due to national media dominance on the left. Read more about our methodology here.
It is also important to note that search popularity does not mean that the outlet is more popular or more trusted for reading the news. For example, Google search popularity for Politico (Lean Left bias) spiked briefly in May 2022 when a leaked draft of a majority opinion obtained by the outlet suggested that the Supreme Court was going to strike down Roe v. Wade.
State-by-State Bias Breakdown of Searched Media Outlets
Many states searched for left-leaning media outlets more than outlets on the right. The top three five states that searched more for outlets on the left were Hawaii, Vermont, and California. On the other hand, the top states that searched more for outlets on the right were Mississippi, Wyoming, and Arkansas.
Here is a full breakdown of total search volume of media outlets analyzed by state:
As shown above, outlets rated Left, Lean Left, and Right by AllSides take up a lot of search popularity on Google, while outlets rated Center and Lean Right generally take up less than 10% of the search popularity of outlets analyzed for each state.
Why did Left- and Right-rated outlets take up so much of the search popularity in 2022? The answer is because of Fox News (Right bias) and CNN (Left bias) – both of these outlets came out on the top of all others in each U.S. state, based on the outlets analyzed from the AllSides Media Bias Chart™. And in all states except for seven – Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, California, Vermont, Maine, and Maryland – these two outlets made up over half of the total search volume of the 37 total outlets analyzed.
So, which news outlet is searched the most in your state? Here’s the answer (color intensity represents the percentage of searches in 2021 for the respective outlet – darker blue means more searches for CNN, and darker red means more searches for Fox News):
Compared to 2021, Fox News gained ground against CNN in 2022. Several states, including Florida, Pennsylvania, and Montana, saw search popularity for Fox News against CNN grow by 5% or more. And one state – Minnesota – saw Fox News take over as the most-searched outlet in the state in 2022, instead of CNN in 2021.
United States Trends of Searching for Biased Media Outlets
We also calculated a weekly average of searches for partisan outlets over the course of 2022, accounting for all Google searches across the United States.
Unlike our previous analysis which found that Right-rated outlets grew in search popularity over the course of 2021 at the expense of Lean Right-rated outlets declining, outlet popularity remained roughly the same over the course of 2022.
How AllSides Conducted This Analysis
Powered by Google Trends (read its methodology here) and the outlets displayed on Version 7.1 of the AllSides Media Bias Chart™, we calculated the percentage of searches in all 50 states for each outlet. Outlets for which there was not enough state-level data for the search term in Google Trends were excluded (e.g. Jacobin Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, The American Spectator). Other outlets that were excluded were those for which the search term(s) for the respective outlet had a high incidence of being for something other than the outlet itself, using Top Search queries for Google Trends (e.g. “The Atlantic” or “Time”).
Outlets rated Lean Left were NBC News, ABC News, The Washington Post, CBS News, The New York Times, The Associated Press, NPR, The Guardian, Yahoo News, USA Today, The Economist, Bloomberg, and Politico.
Each outlet made up at least 0.03% of the total searches for news outlets analyzed in each state.
In order to be as objective as possible, some outlets were analyzed using multiple search terms in Google Trends. For example, search terms used for The Associated Press were “The Associated Press,” “Associated Press,” and “AP News.” For CNN, search terms used were “CNN” and “CNN News.” For One America News Network (OAN), search terms used were “One America News Network,” “OAN,” “OANN” and “OAN News.” For HuffPost, “Huffington Post” was also analyzed as a search term.
For questions regarding this analysis, please contact Andrew Weinzierl, AllSides’ Research Manager and Data Journalist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew Weinzierl is AllSides’ Research Manager and Data Journalist. He has a Lean Left bias.
This piece was reviewed by Managing Editor Henry A. Brechter (Center bias).