Perhaps you’ve seen this diagram floating around the internet:
It was created by patent attorney Vanessa Otera. How you feel about its accuracy may depend on your personal biases (we all have them). Some conservative sensational sites have declared the center of the chart (e.g., The New York Times) as extremely liberal but offer no evidence to back their claims.
But your opinion could also depend on your experience in fact-checking. If you’ve read any of these outlets regularly and applied your news literacy to them, looking for biases and unsupported claims and asking other critical questions, you might agree with a lot of this chart.
AllSides is a website that attempts to categorize individual stories as left, right, and center. Like Wikipedia, it can be a useful first step in determining if you have objective news or fake news on your hands. It shares a problem with Wikipedia when it comes to objectivity: crowdsourcing. Site users help determine the political biases of several news outlets. As with Otera’s chart, though, it’s a start.
For copyediting—indeed, for critical reading of any kind—charts and sites like these must only be a beginning. Learn how to increase your news literacy and how to fact-check in a world of fake news and alternative facts in the April–May 2017 issue of Copyediting newsletter.
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