Note: This media bias rating refers only to NPR's online news content, NOT NPR radio or editorial/opinion content.
In Dec. 2017, AllSides split its NPR media bias ratings into two pages: NPR Opinion/Editorial media bias and the page you are currently viewing, NPR News (online news content only, not radio content). This change was the result of a Dec. 2017 NPR Editorial Review in which we determined NPR's online news media bias differs significantly from its editorial/opinion page media bias.
Update, Feb. 2019: AllSides Maintains NPR Media Bias Rating as Center
After releasing version 1 of the AllSides media bias chart, we received a lot of feedback from people who disagreed that NPR should be rated Center. On February 19, 2019, our team conducted an editorial review of NPR online news. We determined that NPR online news maintains a Center media bias rating.
The AllSides team, made up of people from all over the political bias spectrum, unanimously determined that NPR maintains a Center media bias. We noted NPR online news does not predictably show coverage favoring left or right perspectives, and generally reports in a way that fairly showcases the perspectives of both the Left and the Right. NPR online news does not use emotionally charged or polarizing language, and maintains a relatively fair representation of issues. We found its reporting to be fact-based and not leaning left or right.
Our team noted that NPR does not give lots of coverage to current hot-button issues frequently seen in coverage on the Right — such as free speech, abortion, or the second amendment — and in that same vein, does not give lots of coverage to hot-button issues often covered by the Left — economic inequality, climate change, or social justice initiatives. Instead, it opts to cover issues that are of equal concern to both sides, such as healthcare, immigration, and representative politics, such as Congress and election coverage.
Our team noted that NPR does a good job of ensuring that Opinion pieces are not interspersed with News pieces. This is in comparison to Lean Left outlets such as CNN, which displays opinion and news pieces side-by-side on its homepage, potentially confusing readers as to what is subjective versus objective coverage.
Our team noted a very slight Lean Left in NPR's coverage overall, but not to the same degree as exhibited in outlets AllSides rates as a Lean Left media bias, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others.
AllSides media bias ratings are fluid and subject to change over time. We will continue to monitor NPR news bias into the future.
Past Media Bias Ratings on NPR
Dec. 2017: Separate Media Bias Ratings for NPR and NPR Editorial/Opinion
The AllSides NPR media bias rating has historically been Center, but data collected in surveys leading up to Dec. 2017 showed that NPR may slowly be inching farther Left. Because AllSides users had also expressed this belief through voting, AllSides decided to take a closer look.
In Dec. 2017, AllSides engaged in two editorial reviews for NPR (learn more about how AllSides rates media bias). The first, a Blind Survey, brought together a group of individuals who have biases across the political spectrum. Participants reviewed headlines and full articles "blindly," with all relevant identifiers from NPR removed, and selected a bias rating accordingly. The result from this study was Lean Left. Two previous blind surveys had resulted in Center ratings for NPR's media bias both times, though slightly leaning towards Lean Left.
We followed up with a traditional editorial review, in which the AllSides team looked at a composite of past research, media bias ratings and data, while also looking at NPR's full news coverage of that day. Considering that recent data had shown a slight move towards Lean Left, we examined both hard news and op-eds (opinions pieces and editorials).
AllSides found that NPR News maintains a Center media bias, as it consistently showcases multiple sides of each story and refrains from biased language and images in its news articles. Its editorials, however, were slightly biased towards the Left.
With this in mind, AllSides separated NPR into two source pages: we created a new, separate page for NPR Opinion/Editorial, which is rated as Lean Left media bias. This includes all op-eds, analysis and fact checking NPR articles. The page you are currently viewing, NPR News, now represents NPR's online news content only. NPR News has a Center media bias
AllSides Media Bias Ratings for NPR Prior to 2017
A 2005 UCLA study rated NPR’s Morning Edition (not based on the news section of the website) as having a Lean Left media bias, while the AllSides Media Bias Rating™ (based on the news section of the website) for NPR remained Center. A majority of over 5,000 community members agreed with the Center rating, but in a follow-up survey of 118 members who disagreed, NPR received an average bias score of 72.5, well within the range of a Lean Left media bias. An October 2013 AllSides Blind Survey rated NPR as Center by a narrow margin.
About NPR News
NPR says it is unbiased, and although we don't think there is such a thing as "unbiased," there is such a thing as balanced. NPR aims to be independent by generating revenue from fees it charges its member stations, as well as grants from foundations, contributions and sponsorships. Although it has been accused of ideological biases from both the left and the right, a majority of the U.S. adult population does not believe information on public broadcasting is biased.
More About NPR
NPR is a multimedia news organization and radio program producer that serves as a national syndicator to a network of 950 public radio stations in the United States. Its mission is to work with member stations to create a more informed public, one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures. NPR's flagships are two drive time news broadcasts, Morning Edition and the afternoon All Things Considered; both are carried by most NPR member stations, and are two of the most popular radio programs in the country.