After studying the AllSides Media Bias Chart™, it can be easy to assume you should only read down the middle, or outlets AllSides has rated as Center. But these outlets are not necessarily better, more neutral, or more trustworthy.
We firmly believe news readers should avoid only reading outlets AllSides rates as Center — it’s much better to read horizontally across the political spectrum and to incorporate outlets on the left, center and right instead. There are a few reasons for this.
First, Center doesn’t mean better.
A Center media bias rating doesn't necessarily mean AllSides believes a source is neutral, unbiased, perfectly reasonable or credible — just as Left and Right don't necessarily mean extreme, wrong, or unreasonable. A Center rating simply means the source does not predictably publish perspectives favoring either end of the political spectrum — conservative or liberal.
A Center outlet may omit important perspectives or run individual articles that display bias.
Second, some of our outlets rated “Center” aren’t a perfect Center.
They’re more Center-Left (like in the case of BBC and AP, which also has a separately-rated, Lean Left politics and fact check section), or are more Center-Right (like in the case of RealClearPolitics). Center sources can be our trickiest to determine, and sometimes their Center designation walks on thin ice. For years, NPR's online news rating toed the line between Center and Lean Left (it's now Lean Left). An outlet's rating can also change over time, as we have seen in cases like USA Today, formerly Center and now Lean Left.
Third, Center outlets may omit important perspectives.
A Center outlet may skip over perspectives or opinion pieces that explore the full spectrum of political thought. Maybe a Center outlet runs an opinion piece about why we should keep the minimum wage the same, but a left-wing outlet runs a piece about why it should be raised, and a right-wing outlet runs a piece about why it should be abolished altogether. If you only read the Center outlet, you would never hear the arguments for these other perspectives.
A healthy media diet means consuming across the political spectrum. Especially if you are just starting out on your journey of political thought, it’s crucial to get multiple perspectives and decide for yourself what you think — not to be swayed by one or a few outlets that have an agenda.
Julie Mastrine is the Director of Marketing and Media Bias Ratings at AllSides. She has a Lean Right bias.
This piece was reviewed by Henry Brechter, Managing Editor (Center), John Gable, CEO and Co-Founder (Lean Right), Joseph Ratliff, Daily News Editor (Lean Left), and Andrew Weinzierl, Research Assistant and Data Journalist.