Angela Zhong - Jul 19, 2020

What are the most credible liberal news sources?

When you hear left-leaning news, you may think CNN, The New York Times, or The Washington Post. While these large media sources produce a large volume of stories, are they actually the most credible left-leaning sources? 

In an increasingly saturated and liberal-leaning news space, readers are faced with the challenge of cutting through the noise and simultaneously forming their own opinions. With over 320 left-leaning news outlets, parsing through that amount of information seems a nearly impossible task.

To make the search for credible news easier, we used our algorithm to find the highest-ranking liberal news sites, to follow up from our previous analysis of the highest-ranking conservative news sites

The Factual’s algorithm analyzes individual articles for credibility based on the author’s topical expertise, the diversity of sources via links and quotes, the neutrality of the writing tone, and the historical reputation of the publishing site. The average credibility rating of a news source accounts for all of the articles produced during that time period. Articles rated over 75% have a high confidence of credibility. To learn more, see How It Works.

We analyzed 58,000 articles published between May 1 and May 21 and curated top 10 left-leaning sources that have posted at least twenty times within that period. To find a list of all left-leaning sources we analyzed and their ratings, see appendix.

Here is the breakdown of the top 10 publications based on their average Factual credibility grade:

left-leaning articles

  1. Lawfare Blog • Average Credibility Grade: 77.70% • 60 articles published

    Published by the Lawfare Institute in cooperation with the Brookings Institution, Lawfare is a blog and podcast dedicated to national security issues and received attention for its reporting on Donald Trump's presidency. 

    Top Article: “State Emergency Authorities to Address COVID-19” by Benjamin Della Rocca, Samantha Fry, Masha Simonova, and Jacques Singer-Emery (Grade 91%)

  2. FiveThirtyEight • Average Credibility Grade: 76.44% • 66 articles published

    Perhaps most known for opinion poll analysis, FiveThirtyEight, sometimes rendered as 538, also covers economics and sports blogging. Founded by analyst Nate Silver, who famously predicted Obama's 2008 win, FiveThirtyEight is now a subsidiary of ABC News. 

    Top Article: “Will The Supreme Court Finally Force Trump’s Tax Returns To Be Released?” by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux (Grade 88%)

  3. The Intercept • Average Credibility Grade: 76.03% • 91 articles published

    The Intercept is a publication of First Look Media sporting the tag “Fearless, adversarial journalism that holds the powerful accountable.” The Intercept is known for publishing leaked documents by Edward Snowden, and for investigative journalism around national security issues. 

    Top Article: “The Devolution of the GOP, From Eisenhower to Donald Trump” by Zaid Jilani (Grade 88%)

  4. The Ringer • Average Credibility Grade: 74.93% • 30 articles published

    Founded in 2016, this latecomer owned by Spotify has climbed up the leaderboard with sports and pop culture coverage. Its flagship podcast, The Bill Simmons Podcast, interviews famous athletes and celebrities. 

    Top Article: “The Testing Plans at the Center of the NBA’s Relaunch Efforts” by Kevin O'Connor (Grade 84%)

  5. City Lab • Average Credibility Grade: 74.40% • 20 articles published

    CityLab is part of Bloomberg’s American Cities Initiative to analyze the development of various neighborhoods. Their goal is to create "scalable solutions to major challenges faced by cities everywhere."

    Top Article: “In Lockdown, Seniors Are Becoming More Tech Savvy” by Linda Poon (Grade 83%)

  6. Propublica • Average Credibility Grade: 74.11% • 65 articles published

    ProPublica is a nonprofit based in New York City centered around investigative journalism they believe will rouse the public’s interest. Their goal is to "dig deep into important issues, shining a light on abuses of power and betrayals of public trust — and we stick with those issues as long as it takes to hold power to account."

    Top Article: “These Workers Packed Lip Gloss and Pandora Charm” by Wendi C. Thomas (Grade 83%)

  7. Quartz • Average Credibility Grade: 73.65% • 31 articles published

    Abbreviated QZ, Quartz is a self-purported guide to the new global economy that covers all things business. It is a digital-native outlet with branches around the globe. 

    Top Article: “Scientists want to see the evidence that shows remdesivir works for Covid-19” by Olivia Goldhill (Grade 84%)

  8. Heavy • Average Credibility Grade: 73.35% • 26 articles published

    Through its flagship website, Heavy.com, and Spanish-language platform, AhoraMismo.com, readers benefit from rapid, unbiased reporting. Heavy specializes in "Five Fast Facts" posts about trending topics. 


    Top Article: “Browns DE Myles Garrett Petitions for Offensive Role” by J.R. De Groote (Grade 85%)

  9. CNBC • Average Credibility Grade: 72.67% • 1421 articles published

    Originally a televised business news channel, this division of NBC has expanded to publish countless articles daily. It provides real-time financial coverage to over 355 million people per month. 

    Top Article: “CDC contact tracing criteria opens door for Apple-Google approach” by Kif Leswing (Grade 87%)

  10. Salt Lake Tribune • Average Credibility Grade: 72.67% • 24 articles published

    A daily non-profit newspaper published in the city of Salt Lake City, Utah, with the largest paid circulation in the state. For almost 100 years, it was a family-owned newspaper held by the heirs of U.S. Senator Thomas Kearns.

    Top Article: “Utah is the second most biased state against nonreligious residents, survey says” by Peggy Fletcher Stack (Grade 85%)

 

Findings

What does this data mean? We were surprised to find that most of the big name left-leaning sources did not make the top 10. The New York Times scored 69%, CNN, the most popular left-leaning source, scored 54%, and BBC scored 66% — putting them below the niche outlets featured in this list. This begs the question of quantity versus quality when it comes to reporting, as smaller sites often feature expert analysis that takes longer to curate, resulting in less frequent articles. For example, on the topic of civil liberties, The Intercept scores consistently higher than The New York Times, and on matters concerning elections, FiveThirtyEight leads the discussion. In this way, our algorithm serves as a proxy for expertise, as niche sites often have an extensive history of writing on a topic with well-researched articles. 

Across the aisle, popular right-leaning publications such as Fox News or the Wall Street Journal have an average credibility grade of 57% and 66% respectively, which would also put them below the top 10 here. Does this mean that left-leaning sites are more credible? Not necessarily. While Fox News and the Wall Street Journal may be the biggest names on the Right, we discovered that there are many niche right-leaning sources that are just as credible as the publications listed above, including Reason and Military Times. 

This indicates that, regardless of political leaning, news sources dedicated to a certain topic rate more highly than high-volume, general news sources, as they tend to provide more well-researched context. 


Conclusion

At The Factual, we hope to use sound methodology and direct our readers to quality news across the political spectrum. This way, individuals can sift through the information and make better-informed decisions in light of the constantly changing world around us. We fundamentally believe that including a variety of perspectives is a key component to acknowledging and accounting for the implicit bias from both authors and readers. We hope this list of sources encourages our readers to consider diverse outlets in their search for the truth.

Lastly, we know that finding multiple credible perspectives on every topic, every day, can be exhausting. That’s why The Factual’s mission is to apply its algorithm to the 10,000+ articles published every day, cultivating the most credible stories on the hottest topics across the political spectrum in our daily newsletter. 

Subscribe to our free daily newsletter. You can also see articles graded and grouped by topics on our news site.

Want to use The Factual’s data to research trends in journalism? Reach out about collaborations by contacting Arjun Moorthy (arjun.moorthy@thefactual.com).

 

Appendix 1: Left-leaning sources analyzed and their average credibility scores.

Note: We removed sources with less than 20 articles published during this time period, since there was not enough data to make an accurate representation of their average score. Also, some outlets are behind a paywall which makes it difficult to access all their articles to analyze.

Publisher Bias Number of Articles Published
Average Credibility Grade
ABC News Moderate Left 352 72%
Al Jazeera Moderate Left 756 54%
AlterNet Left 656 53%
AOL Moderate Left 79 66%
Austin American-Statesman Moderate Left 20 47%
Axios Moderate Left 421 65%
BBC Moderate Left 1282 66%
Bloomberg News Moderate Left 307 64%
Boston Globe Moderate Left 60 59
Business Insider Moderate Left 257 71%
Bustle Magazine Moderate Left 55 62%
Buzzfeed Moderate Left 186 49%
CBC News (Canadian Broadcasting) Moderate Left 282 64%
CBS News Moderate Left 1070 69%
Change.org Left 22 48%
Chicago Sun Times Moderate Left 20 63%
City Lab Moderate Left 20 74%
CNBC Moderate Left 1421 73%
CNN Left 1941 54%
Daily Beast Left 447 69%
Daily Dot Left 24 68%
Daily Kos Left 86 48%
Daily Mirror Left 32 41%
Deadline Hollywood Moderate Left 52 69%
Deadspin Left 127 70%
Deccan Herald Moderate Left 163 36%
Democracy Now Left 33 36%
Digg Moderate Left 26 59%
DW News Moderate Left 29 59%
Engadget Moderate Left 37 66%
Esquire Magazine Left 32 67%
Fast Company Magazine Moderate Left 117 65%
FiveThirtyEight Moderate Left 66 76%
Gizmodo Left 55 70%
Global News Moderate Left 23 70%
GQ Magazine Left 134 61%
Grist Moderate Left 58 72%
Heavy Moderate Left 26 73%
Hindustan Times Moderate Left 113 62%
Hollywood Reporter Moderate Left 70 61%
Houston Chronicle Moderate Left 23 61%
Huffington Post Left 118 55%
Inside Higher Ed Moderate Left 22 60%
Inverse Moderate Left 44 69%
Jacobin Left 30 71%
LA Times Moderate Left 906 69%
Lawfare Blog Moderate Left 60 78%
Lifehacker Moderate Left 34 64%
Mashable Left 23 63%
Miami Herald Moderate Left 82 68%
Minneapolis Star Tribune Moderate Left 117 61%
Mother Jones Left 165 68%
Naked Capitalism Moderate Left 72 71%
NBC News Moderate Left 194 70%
New Republic Left 99 72%
New York Daily News Moderate Left 36 45%
New York Magazine Left 48 69%
New York Times Moderate Left 2266 69%
New Yorker Left 202 64%
Newsweek Left 109 46%
NPR Moderate Left 649 69%
Palmer Report Left 37 57%
PBS News Hour Moderate Left 54 60%
People Magazine Left 78 69%
Politico Moderate Left 300 67%
Portland Press-Herald Moderate Left 28 61%
Propublica Moderate Left 65 74%
Quartz Moderate Left 31 74%
Queerty Left 24 57%
Raw Story Left 50 46%
Religion News Service (RNS) Moderate Left 123 68%
Rolling Stone Left 121 67%
Salon Left 47 70%
Salt Lake Tribune Moderate Left 24 73%
San Francisco Chronicle Moderate Left 55 65%
San Jose Mercury News Moderate Left 44 65%
Seattle Times Moderate Left 145 68%
SFGate Moderate Left 37 64%
Sky News Moderate Left 25 69%
Slate Left 101 69%
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Moderate Left 53 65%
Star-Ledger Moderate Left 27 68%
Stuff Moderate Left 61 56%
Talking Points Memo Left 29 69%
Tampa Bay Times Moderate Left 57 60%
TechCrunch Moderate Left 638 68%
The Atlantic Moderate Left 278 66%
The Cut Moderate Left 185 62%
The Economic Times Moderate Left 29 66%
The Guardian Moderate Left 1891 66%
The Hill Moderate Left 258 63%
The Independent Moderate Left 311 64%
The Intercept Left 91 76%
The Mary Sue Left 42 52%
The Nation Left 140 67%
The Next Web Moderate Left 79 62%
The Patriot-News Moderate Left 32 65%
The Plain Dealer Moderate Left 25 70%
The Ringer Moderate Left 30 75%
The Verge Moderate Left 116 70%
The Week Moderate Left 21 67%
Time Magazine Moderate Left 66 66%
Times of Israel Moderate Left 20 67%
US News World Report Moderate Left 21 61%
USA Today Moderate Left 1200 59%
Vanity Fair Left 336 69%
Vice News Moderate Left 91 54%
Vox Left 374 72%
Vulture Moderate Left 49 65%
Washington Post Moderate Left 1765 68%
Wired Magazine Moderate Left 276 69%
Yahoo News Moderate Left 741 53%

 

 

Written by Angela Zhong

As a debater, Angela is focused on learning all facets of current issues and cutting through to the truth. She is also an incoming freshman at Harvard University. In her free time, she enjoys figure skating.

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