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Common forms of media bias

This page was created to assist students and adults with understanding common forms of media bias, or how to spot 'fake news'. We have provided some examples of the different types of bias used by popular news sources. Bias isn't always a bad thing, but hidden bias tends to mislead and divide communities.

Selection and choices made

Visuals bias

Choosing well-timed photos for politicians and individuals to give the reader an early impression or elicit an emotional response. This also includes using video footage to create a perception.

Joe Biden example of visual bias

Story placement

How far into the article both viewpoints are discussed. Fair analysis offers both views at the same point in the story. This can also apply to the placement within the paper/website where the article is found. Biased outlets may make it easier to find stories that promote a certain view, and harder to find stories that don’t support the opposing view.

3rd paragraph shows the left wing Allman-Payne's view, 10th paragraph shows the right wing Pauline Hanson's view

Story selection

Choosing stories that align with the agenda of either the left or the right whilst not choosing stories that align with the opposite view. In this example we can see left-leaning sources have reported on the latest lawsuit against Donald Trump, but it is harder to find right-leaning sources that discuss this issue.

Story selection by ABC Australia, The Guardian, CNBC, and the American Broadcasting Company on Donald Trump

Source selection

Choosing sources or quoting experts that support one view whilst ignoring sources or quoting experts that go against a view. Fair analysis should discuss both sides equally. In this article, we can see one view is properly addressed by quoting a reputable expert; however, there is no counterargument presented from a secondary expert to give us a different perspective.

Source selection discussing Climate Change where only one study is used

Fact omission

Only discussing facts that show one viewpoint whilst ignoring counter facts or arguments. In this example, we can see one source mentions Daniel Andrews voted in a different electorate and doesn’t mention voting with his adult children, whilst the other source says Daniel Andrews voted with his adult children and doesn’t mention that he voted in a different electorate

Comparison of how Sky News and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation report on a story about Daniel Andrews

Tone and language in articles


Using spiteful language about a person or group to damage their reputation. Most commonly seen in headlines.

Headline using mudsling language about a New York Democrat appeasing the

Misrepresenting facts

Using facts to reach a conclusion that doesn’t actually show what happened. Here we can see the article headline would lead us to believe that all of Scotland shares the same view about the UK Government, but later we find out that only 1,043 people were polled.

News article using a poll about Scotland's views on the UK government


Objective facts are reported subjectively so that the reader interprets the article in a certain way. This can also include misleading headlines.

Example of spin talking about Andy Puzder's ex-wife

Misstating opinions as facts

Incorrectly making a subjective comment as if it were objectively measurable.

Example of an opinion being used in an editorial piece about Scott Morrison

Emotional language

Use of emotional language to get an emotional response from readers or to misrepresent facts.

Emotional language being used to talk about Serena Williams at the US Open
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