Quality news sources
Independent, investigative journalism in the public interest is becoming harder and harder to find. This is a shame because an informed public is critical for democracy to function effectively.
What news sources do you recommend for people trying to avoid the distraction of biased, sensationalist outlets like Fox News or CNN?
Honestly, while people like to talk about bias from the news source, they never like to talk about the biases they have within themselves. All of us have our own life experiences and opinions, and all of us are going to use it to color our experiences. For example, I'm a very anti-privatization dude; I've had many opportunities in my life to compare public and private services, and I've seen everything from parts of my healthcare to the house I live in in both public and private versions. I've come to the conclusion that privatization largely doesn't work, and that most of the people who are strong proponents of it are those who either have or are hoping to get a stake of profit out of my own well being. Is this a fair view? Eh, it depends. I think it's safe to say that most privatization in the US at least, has been a failure; the military's budget especially has ballooned out of control while becoming far less capable, and the exodus of knowledge from the public to the private sector has left it substantially weakened. However, there are almost certainly cases where privatization is the right choice, and I know I'd discount it at first, because of my prior experiences. So keeping this in mind, while I think we can loosely objectively rank news sources in terms of their accuracy, looking for a perfectly objectively unbiased site is sort of like looking for the best tasting food; the results are going to vary, and you probably won't agree with everyone's recommendation. And honestly, I think a lot of people misunderstand what a bias is in the first place, but that's a discussion for another time I think...
Anyway, with all that said, here are some of what I would consider the best newspapers / sources:
Politico (free) . I think quite possibly the best political newspaper out there, they have a pretty in-depth understanding of how US politics works, and for anyone interested in the subject matter, I'd highly recommend checking it out. They usually do a great job giving articles that thoughtfully cover a subject, and they do so in a pretty well informed way. Even when I disagree with them, I understand where they're coming from.
New York Times (I think 7.99 for a regular subscription, but discount pricing available for some people like students etc.) If you avoid the opinion section, which is well labeled, NYT's articles are usually quite dry and I would consider pretty objective. It's one of the largest newspapers in the world so you have tons of content, and it spans many different categories, from politics, current events, sports, etc. Where Politico is very specialized and focuses on only one kind of news, I use NYT as a catch-all for everything.
BBC (free) a similar counterpart to NYT but located outside the US, so it provides a more international outlook.
PBS and its various affiliates for local news (free); PBS does a good job of providing local news, which can be very useful when you are trying to follow New Hampshire politics in Hawaii :P they're not covered very well, or sometimes at all, in national newspapers. If you live in the US, PBS also provides excellent televised debates; it's among the most trusted government services for a reason.
I also use some much smaller or more specialized sites from an American perspective, like Slashdot, Zeit.de, Japan Times, and Ka Leo for more specialized news, but these probably won't interest most people. Nonetheless, all of them have their perks and cover interesting content. Also a shoutout to Vox, although I certainly wouldn't label neutral, publishes some really interesting articles that other services either overlook or decide not to talk about. It's an advocacy site, not a newspaper, though, important to keep in mind.
I feel like this is the key to getting quality news from any vaguely reputable source. Instead of getting pre-chewed takes from other people, sticking to the actual news itself lets you digest it and come up with your own opinion.
I sometimes wonder if a lot of the cries of biased news media are mostly coming from the flood of opinion pieces on the Internet. Opinion pieces are very biased, by their very nature, and it's very easy to come across them these days. It's harder to actually stick to just pure reporting.
Heh, no longer just an advocate, maybe a consultant now :D but I'm going to be the devil's advocate twice. I actually think opinion pieces can hold lots of value when they're written by people who are well informed of the issue. See, the thing about raw news / data in general is that unless you're an expert or at least solidly educated in the area it's talking about, you're unlikely to be able to really understand what that information means.
Here's an example; a newspaper reports that the US has a large trade deficient with China. To be totally neutral, they could still say something like "the trade deficient is the value of goods imported from China vs the value of goods exported". But does knowing this mean? At first blush, you might want to treat it as just a simple income / expense ratio, but that would be quite foolish, since it works very differently then pure money, but you probably wouldn't know that, since to say something like "the problem with a large trade deficient is that it damages our economy's poorer workers" or "focusing on the trade deficient is a waste of time, since the trade deficient doesn't hurt us in industries we can effectively compete in" is solidly into opinion territory. I think for a single person to try to have comprehensive knowledge about every event and the background knowledge behind it is... admirable, but unattainable. You might hire a lawyer to advise you on legal matters, you might hire a tax consultant or agency to help you file your taxes, I don't think finding a newspaper to give you sound advice on news is a bad idea either. You just need to make sure the newspaper itself has a good reputation for honesty / insightful views, but that applies to any profession.
Good point. Perhaps it's more that opinion sections seem to be filled with hot takes more than informed opinions these days, or at least that's what gets spread around the internet quite a bit.
For opinion and analysis pieces, I find The Conversation quite good.
Interesting, I'll be sure to check it out. Thanks!
Reputation. The same reason you can tell a good lawyer from a bad one, or find a solid electrician over a poor one, even though you don't know much about their fields. Newspapers are trickier because you will never find a holy grail of truly unbiased news, because such a thing doesn't exist, but you can absolutely find ones that are known for providing quality news and insight.
I don't think there is such a thing as "pure news".
Selective omission or amplification of factual information is one of the most insidious forms of propaganda. As we saw with the Iraq War, the vilification of Hillary Clinton's e-mail server management, and any number of other "stories", the failure to provide even-handed, context-aware presentations of fact had the effect of creating biased understanding of events. There was a journal called Lies of Our Times in the early '90's, primarily aimed at debunking this sort of activity on the part of the New York Times: https://archive.org/stream/LiesOfOurTimesCollection/Sep-Dec1994-V5-N7_djvu.txt
Noam Chomsky also has a great deal to say on the subject in Manufacturing Consent.
I always told myself I'd never pay for news but in this day and age I'm happy to be a NYT subscriber. We need to support independent and trustworthy news outlets that can cut through the massive propaganda that is infiltrating all aspects of our online experiences. If you can afford to spend less than the cost of a lunch a month, you should seriously think about buying the basic subscription to the New York Times.
My problem with the New York Times is this: they covered the 2016 election poorly and with some bias. Immediately after the election they wrote what amounted to a big apology about the way they covered it and said they would get back to real reporting without bias. (I’ll try to find a link) the very next article I read from them was an article from an unnamed source that talked about how the trump team was holding meetings in the dark because nobody could find the light switch.
So in my opinion they did exactly the opposite of what they said they would do and started pumping out drivel like that article.
To be fair they do a lot of good reporting but i don’t have time to check every source so if I don’t trust the Times to be fair and unbiased then I can’t believe what they write unless I’ve checked the source or someone else is corroborating the story
I've never understood the reluctance people have towards paying for news.
When newspapers were king, people bought them seven days a week, and not only did we buy them, we did so in the full knowledge that there would be advertising included in the price of purchase.
Reuters is probably my go-to for unbiased, 100% neutral news, particularly their world news page - https://www.reuters.com/news/world.
As an example of their attempt to be objective, see their policy on the words terrorism/terrorist - http://handbook.reuters.com/?title=T#terrorism.2C_terrorist - I don't know of anyone else doing that.
I like this handbook a lot.
I don't have a great answer to my own question here, but I like The Economist (economist.com) a lot, and I've recently started reading ProPublica (propublica.org).
Silbern, I agree with your comments about being introspective about bias. That's an important part of improving overall awareness.
I tend to stick with The Economist and The Intercept for the more interesting news stories, The Guardian for the really fast/immediate news, and Fivethirtyeight for US politics. Though just as often I will hear about the big items in passing on twitter and Reddit
Wikipedia. Even if they haven't the latest news they still have a lot of good things, e.g.
So I'm really late to the party, but... https://www.wikinews.org/
this ted talk on astroturfing skewers wikipedia
I'm not sure of any news source that's reliable or that I can recommend, but I use this site:
It's a site that automatically aggregates and groups news stories from a ton of sources, including extremely biased and fake news sources. This allows me to compare stories against each other and also see what news sources all share the same headlines. The comments on that site leave a lot to be desired, like comments on every news article on every site.
The Week magazine aggregates other news sources, a bit like spidr, I guess, but edited into a cohesive narrative. The magazine has a fixed structure with sections for all kinds of news and also some tasteful fluff like quotes, humorous news, and political cartoons.
I use the ABC (http://www.abc.net.au/news/) and Fairfax Media (https://www.smh.com.au/).
The Australian Broadcasting Commission is independent, and provides high-quality journalism and analysis. Every successive government since the 1980s, from both sides of politics, has complained about the ABC having a bias against the government, so they must be doing something right!
Meanwhile, Fairfax Media is about the only private local media organisation that actually does journalism. The other main one, News Corp, is Rupert Murdoch's mouthpiece for right-wing talking points. Fairfax's publications might have a slight left-ish bias but they're still a lot closer to the centre than News Corp is on their side. They have a lot of good award-winning journalists on their staff. Also, Fairfax and the ABC work together on important investigations.
Hvper.com is a decent news site aggregator.
However, I've found Financial Times and the Economist worth following because rich people actually have a need to know what's going on globally without excessive ideological bias or nationalist filters. I follow Canadian news sources, The Guardian, and South China Morning Post, Die Zeit, and a couple of other non-U.S. sites to get external perspectives on U.S. policy.
It might be Murdoch owned, but the WSJ has been a fairly neutral, centre-right read for me... that is if you avoid the editorial section.
Yeah, their editorial page is just horrendous
They purged a number of staff members after the Trump election as they were not on-board with the full on pro-Trump message.
Among my lists:
The New York Times
The Financial Times
The Washington Post
Christian Science Monitor
See also, Tracking the Conversation, particularly MSM and alt-news sites.
It looks like I'm a bit of an outlier in this thread but it's probably good to get another point of view.
I do often follow links to standard media sources to see what their take is on a subject and I do find AP and Reuters to still be OK about most things and for investigative journalism The Intercept is the best.
I have almost exclusively moved to independent youtube journalists for news coverage. I may have fallen into my own new quasi leftist bubble but I feel better to not be under the oppressive framing of the MSM and connected two party duopoly.
The Real News Network This is a high quality news operation centering out of Baltimore.
the Jimmy Dore Show A Carlinesque take on the news.
The Rational National A Canadian's take on the (mostly) US political system.
The Humanist Report Pacific Northwest Progressive's take
Benjamin Dixon Show Benjamin is pretty good but I really like a show called "The Discourse"
Secular Talk News from one of the founders of Justice Democrats.
You could say these are all "opinion" but, as others have mentioned, when it's done from a rational and educated place it can be a great way to filter the regular media.
I'd also like to throw out a shout-out to the late Ed Shultz who did an excellent job reporting the news and will be greatly missed.
Based on https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/center/
I like to look at
I do find the partisan rancor of fox news difficult to read.
The Atlantic is the best long-form media outlets I am aware of.
Buzzfeed actually has an amazing investigative journalism team.
Though they are very liberal, I also really like the Daily Beast as they spend a lot of time discussing internet communities and the effects of the internet on the real world which is a passion of mine.
I like allsides.com. They are a content aggregator but they rate each article on how biased it is on a five point scale. Far left - left - center - right - far right.
It can really be quite interesting to read articles about the same topic and the way the different biases show in the writing.
Thanks Belds. I really like this as a tool for helping to analyze the news out there. Although not the same, I have also found http://notfox.com to be good, in the sense that it helps you quickly see the differences between a few mainstream news outlets.