Important Note: This media bias rating refers only to NPR's online written news content, NOT NPR radio or editorial/opinion content.
NPR online news has a Center bias, though on the border of Lean Left. AllSides gives this rating with Medium confidence.
Note that a Center bias does not necessarily mean a source is unbiased, neutral, or always reasonable. It simply means the source does not predictably publish opinions and content biased toward either side of the political spectrum
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 online news (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.
About NPR Online News Bias
A February 2020 AllSides blind bias survey found that NPR online news content maintains a Center bias, though barely, and close to Lean Left. During a blind bias survey, people who hail from all sides of the political spectrum and a diverse array of ages and geographic locations rate the bias of content from a media outlet blindly, meaning all identifying branding and information is removed.
Our February 2020 survey found that on average, people who identified themselves as being Left, Lean Left or Center viewed NPR online news content as as Center. Those who identified themselves as Lean Right and Right see NPR online news as on the border of Center and Lean Left. The overall average response of all groups is Center, though close to the border line with Lean Left. After assessing the results of the blind bias survey, AllSides determined that Center is still the best bias rating for NPR online news content only.
In June 2020, AllSides documented a particular example of an NPR story that showed left bias and fake news, which NPR later corrected.
August 2019: Editorial Review of NPR Online News Bias
Due to ongoing community feedback from users concerned NPR deserves a Lean Left bias rating, the multipartisan team at AllSides conducted an Editorial Review of NPR online news on August 28, 2019. We determined that NPR online news maintains a Center bias, while there is some indication that some of its pieces Lean Left. While some pieces may have a slight Lean Left bent, it is not frequent enough to warrant changing the NPR online news rating to Lean Left.
While AllSides believes NPR may be on the cusp of a Lean Left rating, we also noted its bias is not as overt as other media outlets AllSides rates Lean Left, such as The New York Times or The Washington Post. AllSides Media Bias Ratings are not determined relative to other outlets, but a small amount of consideration is given to the rest of the media landscape, particularly when assessing issues such as bias by omission — which stories an outlet is choosing to cover or not to cover.
Overall, the AllSides team agreed that NPR's online headlines do not insert bias and largely present the facts. NPR online news does not employ sensationalism or overt bias in either direction, and its reporting is mostly in a factual, objective style, not an interpretive style. Some team members noted NPR does not always choose to highlight good-faith conservative viewpoints, choosing to omit nuanced criticism and comments by those on the Right.
In alignment with past editorial reviews, such as the review AllSides conducted in Feb. 2019 (details below), the team found NPR online news does not focus coverage on hot-button topics favored by either side. For example, while many right-wing media outlets frequently focus on abortion, the Second Amendment, and free speech, and left-wing media outlets focus on healthcare, economic inequality, and racism, NPR online news does not favor or even routinely cover such controversial issues. NPR online news coverage focuses more on congressional and representative politics, elections, and world news.
AllSides frequently receives feedback about the NPR online news media bias rating. We believe most of this feedback is due to confusion from folks who believe we are rating NPR radio content, but we will continue to conduct research on this outlet.
About NPR's Audience
A 2014 Pew Research study, "Where News Audiences Fit on the Political Spectrum," found that "the clear majority of [NPR's] audience (67%) is left-of-center, and it is a particularly popular source for consistent liberals, who make up 41% of its audience (compared with 16% of all respondents)." It's important to note that Pew's assessment of NPR's audience may have included those who also listen to its radio content and are not just consumers of its online news. As previously noted, this AllSides Media Bias Rating for NPR refers to its online news content only; we rate the bias of NPR's opinion content separately.
Past NPR Online News Media Bias Ratings
Feb. 2019: Editorial Review
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 online news maintains a Center media bias. At the time, we found NPR online news did not predictably show coverage favoring left or right perspectives, and generally reported in a way that fairly showcased the perspectives of both the Left and the Right. NPR online news did not use emotionally charged or polarizing language, and maintained 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 did a good job of ensuring Opinion pieces are not interspersed with News pieces. There may be a very slight left lean in NPR online news 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 online news bias into the future.
Dec. 2017: Editorial Review and Blind Bias Survey; AllSides Creates Separate Media Bias Ratings for NPR and NPR Editorial/Opinion
The AllSides NPR online news 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 reviews for NPR (learn more about how AllSides rates media bias). The first, a blind bias survey, returned a Lean Left bias rating. Two previous blind surveys had resulted in Center ratings for NPR's online news media bias both times, though slightly 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 pieces 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. This bias rating applies to all online op-eds, analysis and fact checking content. The page you are currently viewing, NPR Online News, now represents a media bias rating for NPR's online news content only.
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.
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.
NPR aims to be independent by generating revenue from fees it charges its member stations, as well as grants from foundations, contributions and sponsorships.