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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Tone and language in articles
Using spiteful language about a person or group to damage their reputation. Most commonly seen in headlines.
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.
Objective facts are reported subjectively so that the reader interprets the article in a certain way. This can also include misleading headlines.
Misstating opinions as facts
Incorrectly making a subjective comment as if it were objectively measurable.
Use of emotional language to get an emotional response from readers or to misrepresent facts.