We’re all biased

Trusting the news, rating credibility, and 5 links worth your time

Do you trust the media to report the news “fully, accurately, and fairly”? 

If your answer is “yes,” you are in the minority. Last week, Gallup released results of recent polling on this subject. 64% of Americans report they have “not very much” trust or “none at all” in newspapers, TV, radio, and other sources for fair and accurate reporting.

As Gallup notes, Americans’ trust in media, like their trust in the three branches of government, is “faltering.”

Restoring faith in the news

My guest on the podcast this week, Arjun Moorthy, has a long history with the news. As a child, he worked as a paper delivery boy. Today he is the CEO and co-founder of The Factual, a company working to restore faith in the news by analyzing the credibility of over 10,000 news stories every day

Before he started The Factual, Arjun had a successful career in tech, but he kept coming back to the news, particularly as he grew more and more concerned about journalism and the news industry. 

He worried that trust in the accuracy and credibility of the news was affecting our country’s success. If being informed is an important part of self-governance, what happens when we no longer trust or believe those sources that provide our information? 

Machine learning + journalism = trust

I hope you’ll listen to hear the full story of The Factual. Arjun, a computer engineer and Stanford MBA, applied his technical skills and entrepreneurship to use machine learning to rate the news. The Factual assigns a credibility score to the tens of thousands of articles analyzed every day. That score is based on site quality, the author’s expertise, quality and diversity of sources cited in the article, and the tone of the article. 

Subscribers to The Factual’s daily newsletter catch up on the latest news and, at the same time, get a consistent measurement of each article’s credibility rating. 

It’s important to note that Arjun isn’t trying to tell his readers what to think or what is true. As he says, no single article and no single journalist has a monopoly on the truth.

Instead, Arjun believes that we all—whether we’re writers or readers—have bias, so we all need to read multiple viewpoints that are well-researched and well-written. After you’ve read those viewpoints, you can draw your own conclusions. 

Who can we trust?

This week, I’m sharing my conversation with Arjun on the podcast and the Gallup poll from last week. I’ve also linked to The Factual so you can read more about their work and consider a free trial of their daily newsletter. The Factual blog offers more in-depth explanation of the ratings of various news sources, and I’ve included the details on The New York Times and Fox News. We talked to Marshall Kosloff about the business model of news media on the podcast last year, and I’ve linked to that as well.

I learned about The Factual and Arjun’s work because one of our readers took the time to share it with me. I’m grateful he did, and if you’ve got resources or tools that help you become better informed, please let me know so I can check those out, too! 

5 links worth your time

  1. New Gallup poll shows that Americans’ trust in media drops to second lowest on record.  
  2. Two-week free trial of The Factual. We highly recommend! 
  3. Here’s what a previous editor of The New York Times said when asked if the outlet was liberal.  
  4. Just how factual is Fox News?  
  5. How has the rise of social media changed the nature of the news?

Photo by Aleksey 159 on Adobe Stock