If you like news sites, and keeping up with what’s going on in the world, you know how important it is to have reliable sources. You don’t want to be that person who posts fake news thinking it’s real, and if you like being the person to share what’s going on, you want to make sure your information is accurate and unbiased.
Some people intentionally share biased news stories attempting to get more shares, immediate emotional reactions, or simply to change someone’s political or moral opinion by making them believe something happened when it didn’t. It’s best to stay away from these kinds of websites that appeal to those willing to share biased news on social media, and we’re here to help you out. We’re going to explain:
- What makes a news website unbiased and reliable
- 4 different methods for finding an unbiased news source online
- Dead giveaways that a news site is biased
- 5 of the best unbiased news websites
So be sure to read through our tips, and make note of what to look for in your main sources for news.
What makes a news source unbiased?
A news source is unbiased if it reports on events factually without a political or moral agenda. The journalists, reporters, and news producers all report on events based on facts and evidence, and avoid making arguments about what occurs. They allow readers/viewers to draw their own conclusions.
It may seem like it would be obvious when a news source is biased, but it’s not always so clear cut. Sometimes the biases are disguised, or not so obvious until after you’ve read articles on the site many times. Here are some hints about how to find an unbiased news source when you’re browsing online.
4 ways to find unbiased news on the internet
Method 1: Try your favorite news resource but always check the sources
If you’re wondering if the news sites you normally use are legitimate, one of the best ways is to check the sources. Read through some past articles and look for where they claim their information comes from. If you can’t find any, then you’re not working with a legitimate site. If the sources seem unreliable, or continuously ambiguous, then the articles are probably not factual.
Sources are always the most important things to look for. Any legitimate journalist or professional wouldn’t skip over explaining where their information is coming from, so always make this step one on your list when checking for news site reliability.
Method 2: Search for general information – not an argumentative stance
If you’re looking for a news source reporting on a recent event, the way you search can really affect the results you receive. Searching for generic topics without a bias in your question helps you avoid argumentative results. Here’s an example:
Search: “news global warming”
“Global warming pause has ended…”
“Experts admit global warming predictions wrong”
“Baseball star Syndergaard: Hurricanes may be ‘global warming’…”
“More than 300 companies worldwide have committed to curb global warming…”
Search: “news is global warming fake?”
“A brief history of fake climate news in the mainstream media”
“Climate change in schools where it’s ‘fake news’”
“‘Why climate change is fake’ – what Americans Google about global warming…”
“Donald Trump has tweeted about climate change skepticism 115 times”
“Hurricane Harvey: climate change – not fake news”
As you can see, the way the second search was framed increased the likelihood that argumentative articles would appear more frequently in the results, while the first search resulted in articles with more general statements of events, and that could argue both sides of global warming (i.e. those who acknowledge its prevalence in the world and those who do not).
If your search opens the door for an immediate stance on something, you’re almost always going to be finding biased news. Try more general news-related searches first, focussing on one local area or country, and general topics such as “politics,” “economy,” and so on – the search engine will help you narrow it down as you go.
Method 3: Use Wikipedia and other collaborative sites
Collaborative sites decrease the likelihood that the information presented can be untruthful or biased. The idea behind a collaborative site like Wikipedia is that the information comes from multiple people and sources, and must be cited with the proven facts. This means that if a claim like “Russian hacking interfered with the 2016 U.S. election” is stated, it is accompanied by a legitimate source, which according to Wikipedia, would be the conclusions of the 2017 investigations of the United States Intelligence Community. However, speculation and outlandish claims that can’t be supported with evidence would not be included within the informational page.
Another great example of collaboration would be when news sites re-post or re-write stories featured earlier on other credible news sites, which is a common practice. These articles site another credible news website as their source, and generally link back to the original article so you can get your information from the news outlet that made the report first. Generally, as time goes on, a news site that re-posts a story will have additional information to add to the report, so this collaboration can help bring you a more well-rounded description of events.
Method 4: Distrust social media and user-generated information
In general, it’s always wise to stay away from social news, or social media-generated news outlets. The intention behind these is always to increase online presence by getting as many shares as possible in a short amount of time, which also increased their revenue, as ads are usually present on the article page.
In addition, some “news” websites allow user-generated information and reporting, which means literally anyone using the site can contribute as a source. These sites have little to no legitimacy, as they do not contain information from reliable sources, nor do they have professional journalists writing the articles. Instead, people with social marketing skills are put in charge of forming articles based on what the site’s users want to see, which leads to the production of many biased articles each day, that in general, report the same kind of information that attacks one kind of political figure or organization.
If the article seems to force you to share it, or reports only on information that they think can go viral, it’s wise to stay away from it, and any other articles and reports you find on the same site.
Major hints that a news source is biased
These are all indicators that there’s something wrong with the story you’re reading. If you can find these present in an article or on the site, the information you’re reading is probably not entirely factual or even verifiable, and in many cases, it could be that the article is intentionally biased.
- No sources – the site doesn’t reference where the information is coming from
- Click bait headlines – the website is enticing you to click, usually from another site or online location, with compelling, unfinished statements such as “You’ll never believe what [this person] did!” or “[This thing] will destroy our entire…”
- Images from other sources – if you can find the same image used for sharing, or at the top of the article on other websites, then the content is likely unoriginal, and quickly put together in an attempt to get shares quickly.
- Poor grammar – if the article is full of typos, poor spelling, or bad grammar, chances are the person who wrote it isn’t qualified for journalism. Instead, they’re merely writing news articles for this website, rather than maintaining journalistic integrity.
- You can’t find an author – if the article isn’t labelled with an author’s name (and their qualifications), or you can’t find this information throughout the site, then the work may be compiled by a team of people writing in haste, rather than a qualified news authority.
- The article makes more arguments than factual statements – if the author is always making argumentative statements instead of stating facts, they are trying to lead you to a certain conclusion. With news, you should be able to read the information and draw your own conclusions, because the facts will speak for themselves.
- The article is overly negative pertaining to a specific person or organization – if more than the facts are stated, and there are repeated sentences that outright insult a person or organization, there is likely a moral or political bias present.
- The “About Us” section states a political purpose – if you check this section out on the site before reading articles, you might find a bias stated right in the “About Us” section. Think carefully about what you read though – as this bias may be disguised!
Top unbiased news sites
Here are some of the best unbiased news sites available on the Internet:
- The Real News – The Real News Network (TRNN) claims to be a “non-profit, viewer-supported daily video-news and documentary service” and aims to keep political and moral views and biases out of the news to simply report the facts.
- Reuters – Reuters avoids making judgements about the news until facts are established. For example, they are known for not labelling events as “terrorist acts” until culprits and their motives have been revealed; instead, they simply report the known facts of what happened.
- C-SPAN – C-SPAN publishes videos of live events, primarily taking place in the United States, so you can watch the news live, as it’s happening, and draw your own conclusions without a journalist’s bias.
- The Wall Street Journal – The WSJ has a large team of fact-checkers that look over articles before they get published to make sure they don’t often report incorrect information.
- British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) – The BBC has been around establishing a name for itself for many years. It’s world reporting is often reliable, and they work hard to get the information out to you first.
Now you know about how to avoid biased news sites, and you’re all set to get out there and start sharing the compelling stories you find online. If you want to make sure you stay socially responsible, and only share the best news, check out our article on the best news apps you can get on your Android or iOS device.