A Nov. 2020 Blind Bias Survey returned a Lean Left result for Reuters; people on the right have been more likely to see left-wing bias in Reuters. In two Editorial Reviews of Reuters, in January 2021 and March 2021, the AllSides team affirmed a Center rating.
Table of Contents
- March 2021 Editorial Review: AllSides Keeps Reuters Center
- Jan. 2021 Editorial Review: AllSides Keeps Reuters Center
- Reuters Rated Lean Left in Nov. 2020 Blind Bias Survey
- Third Party Claims of Bias: Conservatives See Left-Wing Bias
- Community Feedback as of Jan. 2021
- About Reuters
- Funding, Financing and Ownership
March 2021 Editorial Review: AllSides Keeps Reuters Rated Center
A March 2021 Editorial Review by the AllSides team affirmed our Center rating for Reuters, an international media outlet. AllSides had vowed to keep an eye on Reuters after a Jan. 2021 Editorial Review, which was triggered by the results of a Nov. 2020 Blind Bias Survey that found people across the political spectrum had on average rated Reuters as Lean Left.
While some on the team noted a very slight Lean Left bias in Reuters during our March review, the team unanimously agreed that Reuters' content was Center.
Some on the team said Reuters has a bit of a Washington, DC/New York City elite bias in its coverage, but that the outlet did not display common types of media bias such as sensationalism, unsubstantiated claims, slant, or omission of source. The team, which includes people from across the political spectrum, found Reuters used full quotes — not misleading, partial snippets — and sourced quotes from both authoritative institutions and from everyday people it interviewed for articles about local stories.
Reuters' story choice did not seem to lean toward the left or right. The team noted that someone who relied only on Reuters for news might miss some important left and right perspectives.
AllSides noted that Reuters did display an anti-Trump bias. One team member with a Lean Right bias pointed to the very different framing within two articles, one from 2021 and one from 2018, which covered the same border issue faced by President Biden and former President Trump differently. The 2021 article on Biden used softer language: "President Joe Biden on Thursday defended his policy of providing shelter to unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. border from Mexico at his first solo news conference since taking office." Meanwhile, the 2018 article from Trump's tenure used more subjective adjectives and sensationalist language: "The Trump administration defended its hardline immigration policy at the U.S.-Mexico border on Monday as furor grew over the separation of immigrant parents and children, including video of youngsters sitting in concrete-floored cages."
Jan. 2021 Editorial Review: AllSides Keeps Reuters Rated Center Following Lean Left Survey Results
The AllSides team conducted an Editorial Review of Reuters on Jan. 12, 2021 after respondents across the political spectrum blindly gave Reuters an average rating of Lean Left in our Nov. 2020 Blind Bias Survey. The Editorial Review led AllSides to keep Reuters' rating as Center. This is because Blind Bias Surveys only show participants a small snapshot of an outlet's content in time; an Editorial Review allows us to look at more elements, as well as content over time.
Few team members saw many of the common types of media bias in Reuters' work, except for an editor who is on the right. The team agreed Reuters demonstrates an elite, not populist, bias. Team members with Center and Left Left biases pointed to numerous articles that they found to be balanced. Some on the team noted a profile of Trump supporters who went to the Jan. 2021 Capitol protest was "balanced and humanizing."
An editor who is on the right, however, saw more media bias in Reuters' work than the other reviewers, sometimes disagreeing as to whether the very same article showed bias. They saw spin, sensationalism, omission, slant, and the inclusion of subjective qualifiers to frame events.
A reviewer with a Lean Left bias said they were pleased to see an article that included more nuanced views on Big Tech censorship than they typically saw in coverage on the left; a reviewer with a Center bias noted Reuters' story choice was "on the very left side of Center, if not Lean Left. There was a lack of stories that satisfy a right-leaning perspective." They also noted, "Headlines are balanced, as is the structure of Reuters' site when compared to other sites — not as many sensationalist stories above the fold, with big font and emotive phrasing. Overall, the content of the stories was balanced. Subjects that were imbalanced in terms of language were about Donald Trump, election results, and the Capitol storming."
A team member who is on the right said that despite ample videos of violence, looting and rioting in U.S. cities in Summer 2020, looking at the Reuters homepages over the summer using internet archive tools, "you wouldn’t know anything like that was happening. They were either sympathetic to protesters or did not cover violence, buildings burning, looting, etc. very prominently at all. In fact, they mostly featured articles on their homepages that could be seen as showing the police negatively, like the ACLU suing Minneapolis police." They said Reuters' coverage of Jan. 2021 Capitol rioters was "much more harsh and less sympathetic" than coverage of summer rioters. A team member on the left disagreed, and said there were numerous articles that covered riots in the summer.
The reviewer on the right also pointed out a headline that they said was "spun to imply it was Trump and his supporters who were dividing the country, not Big Tech censorship and crackdowns on conservatives": Trump says Big Tech is dividing the country, after his supporters attack Congress.
Overall, the team voted to keep Reuters as Center, and will continue to keep an eye on the outlet.
Reuters Rated Lean Left in Nov. 2020 Blind Bias Survey
On average, people across the political spectrum rated Reuters as Lean Left in our Nov. 2020 Blind Bias Survey. This result was significantly different from AllSides' Media Bias Rating™ of Reuters as Center.
A total of 2,285 people from the left, center, and right took this survey, in which they blindly rated Reuters’ content.
The average rating for Reuters from people on the Left was between Lean Left and Center; the average rating from all other groups — people who self-identified as Lean Left, Center, Lean Right or Right — was a firm Lean Left.
A plurality of people on the Left rated Reuters Center; a plurality in all other groups rated the outlet Lean Left. The second most common response from people on the Left for Reuters was Lean Left; the second most common response from people who Lean Left or are in the Center was Center; the second most common response from people on the right was Left.
The results triggered an Editorial Reviewby the AllSides team, in which AllSides opted to keep Reuters’ rating as Center, but to keep a close eye on the outlet.
Third-Party Claims of Bias
Some, mostly on the right, have accused Reuters of left-wing bias.
Media Reserch Center accused Reuters of "touting a pro-abortion study in one-sided article." It said, "Reuters failed to include vital information about the study and the people it quoted - namely, that the authors of the study and both of the experts it cited were either abortion doctors or had strong ties to the abortion industry."
A Reuters article headline stated, "Oregon right-wingers clash with anti-fascists at march in Portland," misrepresenting the two political activist groups - Portland's "anti-fascists" are widely known among conservatives to be radical leftists and supporters of violence. Reuters' neglect of neutral reporting, which ought to respect both political perspectives, in its own headline demonstrates its high level of bias.
Other writers have accused Reuters of justifying Big Tech censorship, saying it used "classic propaganda and framing techniques to create fear and the suggestion of implicit truth." Others, like Western Journal, accused it of "accidentally voicing support for foreign interference in elections."
Others have accused Reuters of media bias by photo.
Community Feedback as of Jan. 2021
As of Jan. 22, 2021, 15,459 people agreed with our rating of Center for Reuters, and 8,258 people disagreed. Of those who disagreed, 3,659 provided an alternative rating for Reuters. The average of their ratings came out to Lean Right.
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Funding, Financing and Ownership
Note: Funding and ownership is not taken into account when determining AllSides Media Bias Ratings. While it's true ownership and financial interests can affect what goes to print, our bias ratings are determined by assessing the bias of content only. We provide financial and ownership information as an FYI to our readers.
Reuters is owned by the Reuters Group. In April 2008, the Reuters Group was acquired by Thomson Corporation and formed Thomson Reuters. The Woodbridge Company Limited owns 62.35% of shares in Thomson Reuters and is the controlling shareholder. The Chairman of Thomson Reuters and The Woodbridge Company Limited is David Thomson.
Financing and ownership information last updated February 22, 2021. If you think this information is out of date or needs to be updated, please contact us.