List of media biases

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Warning icon orange.svg This page contains too many unsourced statements and needs to be improved.

List of media biases could use some help. Please research the article's assertions. Whatever is credible should be sourced, and what is not should be removed.

You gotta spin it to win it
Icon media.svg
Stop the presses!
We want pictures
of Spider-Man!
Extra! Extra!
Cogito ergo sum
Logic and rhetoric
Icon logic.svg
Key articles
General logic
Bad logic

Media bias is the bias or perceived bias of journalists and news producers within the mass media in the selection of many events and stories that are reported and how they are covered. The term "media bias" implies a pervasive or widespread bias contravening the standards of journalism, rather than the perspective of an individual journalist or article.

Everyone is biased. It is part of human nature to have differing perspectives. But media bias can become difficult to spot. This article aims to help spot such biases in news articles.

The list[edit]


This includes cherry-picking data and Partisan bias, a tendency to report to serve particular political party leaning.

  • Bias by Omission also known as coverage bias or visibility bias is leaving one side out of an article, or a series of articles over a period of time; ignoring facts that tend to disprove liberal or conservative claims, or that support liberal or conservative beliefs. Media outlets sometimes omit stories in order to serve a political agenda. Sometimes, a story will only be covered by media outlets on a certain side of the political spectrum (for example, according to research by AllSides, stories about Benghazi were mostly ignored by the Left, while some climate change stories have been mostly ignored by the Right).
  • Gatekeeping bias also known as selectivity or selection bias is when stories are selected or deselected, sometimes on ideological grounds (see spike). It is sometimes also referred to as agenda bias, when the focus is on political actors and whether they are covered based on their preferred policy issues. It is different from bias by omission in the form that entire stories and events are left out that do not align with the media outlet’s viewpoint.
  • Bias by Story Selection also known as statement bias, tonality bias or presentation bias is the pattern of highlighting news stories that coincide with the agenda of either the Left or the Right, while ignoring stories that coincide with the opposing view or when media coverage is slanted towards or against particular actors or issues. It can include cherry-picking information or data to support one side, or ignoring another perspective. This slant prevents readers from getting the full story, and narrows the scope of our understanding.
  • Ventriloquism, when experts or witnesses are quoted in a way that intentionally voices the author's own opinion.
  • Bias by Placement is where on a website (or newspaper) or in an article a story or event is printed; a pattern of placing news stories so as to downplay information supportive of either conservative views or liberal views.
    • Bias by story placement is one type of bias by placement. The stories that a media outlet features "above the fold" or prominently on its homepage and in print show which stories they really want you to read, even if you read nothing else on the site or in the publication. Many people will quickly scan a homepage or read only a headline, so the stories that are featured first can reveal what the editor hopes you take away or keep top of mind from that day.
    • Bias by viewpoint placement is a related type of bias by placement. This can often be seen in political stories. A balanced piece of journalism will include perspectives from both the left and the right in equal measure. If a story only features viewpoints from left-leaning sources and commentators, or includes them near the top of the story/in the first few paragraphs, and does not include right-leaning viewpoints, or buries them at the end of a story.
  • Concision bias is the tendency to report views that can be summarized succinctly, crowding out more unconventional views that take time to explain.
  • Mainstream bias is a tendency to report what everyone else is reporting, and to avoid stories that will offend anyone.
  • Structural bias is when an actor or issue receives more or less favorable coverage as a result of newsworthiness and media routines, not as the result of ideological decisions (e.g. incumbency bonus).
  • Bias by Labeling comes in two forms. The first is the tagging of conservative politicians and groups with extreme labels while leaving liberal politicians and groups unlabeled or with more mild labels, or vice versa. The second kind of bias by labeling occurs when a reporter not only fails to identify a liberal as a liberal or a conservative as a conservative but describes the person or group with positive labels, such as “an expert” or “independent consumer group.” Alternatively a news source may choice rather or not to add a tag stating a speakers political party based off of how unlikable they may be. For example a person with unpopular or extremist views who is part of the opposition party will have their political affiliation stressed, while if the same individual was part of the favored political party their affiliation will not be mentioned.
  • Sensationalism is bias in favor of the exceptional over the ordinary, giving the impression that rare events, such as airplane crashes, are more common than common events, such as automobile crashes.
  • Emotionalism is a type of media bias in which information is presented in a way that gives a shock or makes a deep impression. Often it gives readers a false sense of culmination, that all previous reporting has led to this ultimate story. Its language is often dramatic, yet vague. It often involves hyperbole, at the expense of accuracy, or warping reality to mislead or provoke a strong reaction in the reader.
  • Undue Weight, when a story is given much greater significance or portent than a neutral journalist or editor would give.
  • False Timeliness, implying that an event is a new event, and thus deriving notability, without addressing past events of the same kind.
  • False balance, when an issue is presented as even sided, despite disproportionate amounts of evidence.
  • Speculative content, when stories focus not on what has occurred, but primarily on what might occur, using words like "could," "might," or "what if," or just JAQ-ing claims without labeling the article as analysis or opinion.
  • Bias by Spin is a type of media bias that means vague, dramatic or sensational language. When journalists put a “spin” on a story, they stray from objective, measurable facts. Spin is a form of media bias that clouds a reader’s view, preventing them from getting a precise take on what happened.
  • Confirmation Bias also called confirmatory bias or my side bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.
  • Bias by Selection of Sources including more sources that support one view over another.
    • Misuse of Scientific Studies A specific example of selection of sources where a real scientific study is cited but misrepresented or quoted out of context to infer something the original study does not imply. Alternatively a questionable study, usually one done by biased sources that were trying to force a particular outcome, that lacked sample size, was poorly controlled, or otherwise poorly implemented, may be stressed because it's results match the political biases of the viewers, while ignoring higher quality independent studies which may have come to a different conclusion. This is basically an attempt at abusing an Argument from authority.
  • Unsubstantiated Claims, sometimes journalists make claims in their reporting without including evidence to back them up. This can occur in the headline of an article, or in the body. Statements that appear to be fact, but do not include specific evidence, are a key indication of this type of media bias. Sometimes, websites or media outlets publish stories that are totally made up. This is often referred to as a type of fake news.
  • Opinion Statements Presented as Fact, sometimes journalists use subjective language or statements under the guise of reporting objectively. Even when a media outlet presents an article as a factual and objective news piece, it may employ subjective statements or language. A subjective statement is one that is based on personal opinions, assumptions, beliefs, tastes, preferences, or interpretations. It reflects how the writer views reality, what they presuppose to be the truth. It is a statement colored by their specific perspective or lens and cannot be verified using concrete facts and figures within the article.
  • Mudslinging (also known as Ad hominem) is a type of media bias when unfair or insulting things are said about someone in order to damage their reputation. Similarly, ad hominem attacks are attacks on a person’s motive or character traits instead of the content of their argument or idea. Ad hominem attacks can be used overtly, or as a way to subtly discredit someone without having to engage with their argument.
  • Mind Reading occurs when a writer assumes they know what another person thinks, or thinks that the way they see the world reflects the way the world really is.
  • Flawed Logic also known as faulty reasoning is a way to misrepresent people’s opinions or to arrive at conclusions that are not justified by the given evidence. Flawed logic can involve jumping to conclusions or arriving at a conclusion that doesn’t follow from the premise.


  • Advertising bias is when stories are selected or slanted to please advertisers.
  • Corporate bias happens when stories are selected or slanted to please corporate owners of media.


  • Connotation is the emotional and imaginative association surrounding a word that can be either positive or negative.
  • Denotation is the strict dictionary meaning of the word.
  • Loaded Language also known as loaded terms or emotive language is wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes. Such wording is also known as high-inference language or language persuasive techniques.
  • Purr Words words used to describe something that is favored or loved.
  • Snarl Words words used when describing something that a person is against or hates.

External links[edit]