Types of Bias

Criteria for Defining Media Bias – as excerpted from How to Identify Liberal Media Bias by Brent H. Baker. To view daily cases of media bias in the national news, visit Media Research Center.

Keep in mind that many stories will reflect more than one kind of bias.

What isn’t bias – What isn’t bias falls into three broad categories:

  1. Editorials or opinion columns
  2. Stories or statements that make the conservative side look bad, but are accurate
  3. Non-policy stories on a specific event that don’t have to be balanced

Commission

Bias by Commission

A pattern of passing along assumptions or errors that tend to support a left-wing or liberal view. This could include stereotyping.

Context

Bias by lack of context

Leading people to believe an issue or problem is much greater than it truly is by not providing proper context, backed up with statistics or thorough analysis of the issue.

Headline/Visual

Bias via headlines, graphics, photos/video

A report may be perfectly fair but its headline or TV graphic is not. The headline may mislead news consumers in favor of a liberal viewpoint or unfairly promote a pro-liberal aspect of the story. Another instance of this bias could be when the images within the story unfairly push, reinforce or favor a liberal viewpoint.

Labeling

Bias by labeling

Attaching a label to conservatives but not to liberals; using more extreme labeling for conservatives than for liberals; identifying a liberal person or group as an “expert” or as independent.

Omission

Bias by omission

Ignoring facts that reflect negatively on liberal or left-wing views or ignoring facts that support conservative views.

Placement

Bias by placement

A pattern of placing news stories so as to downplay information supportive of conservative views.

Policy

Bias by policy endorsement or condemnation

When a reporter goes beyond reporting and endorses the liberal view of which policies should be enacted, or affirms the liberal criticism of current or past policies.

Source Selection

Bias by the selection of sources

Including more sources in a story that support one view over another. This bias can also be seen when a reporter uses such phrases as “experts believe,” “observers say,” or “most people think.”

Spin

Bias by spin

Emphasizing aspects of a policy favorable to liberals without noting aspects favorable to conservatives; putting out the liberal interpretation of what an event means while giving little or no time or space to explaining the conservative interpretation.

Story Selection

Bias by story selection

A pattern of highlighting news stories that coincide with the agenda of the Left while ignoring stories that coincide with conservative social issues.