Journalism, in essence, is the profession that deals with the gathering, production, and distribution of reports regarding recent political, social, criminal, and other societal/regional activities.
However, contemporary News agencies have been known to spread propaganda, biased news, and “fake news.” With a plethora of news agencies in the market, it has become easier to spread fake news to promote political, social, or financial agendas of certain groups.
Many news agencies get funding from certain political parties or corporations and in turn, spread the news (factual or otherwise) that promotes their agenda and favors it.
Which News Sources Can Be Trusted?
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Ideally, news agencies need to be totally factual with zero tolerance towards personal or organizational biases. Whereas, in reality, that is not the case. Political parties, capitalist organizations, and other such groups or individuals can use news agencies to spread lies to the public and gain immense benefits such as winning the elections, winning a legal case, promoting a certain brand, etc.
According to a survey conducted by the Knight Foundation and Gallup, Americans are of the view that a whooping 62% of the information provided on television, radio, and newspapers is biased. Furthermore, the participants believed that 64% of news on social media and 44% of news reports were inaccurate.
But, is there no hope?
Not necessarily. In fact, there are several news agencies that (although not perfect) have been known to provide factual news to the public.
Trustworthy or not?
When talking about fake news, a person inevitably asks the following question:
What is it that makes a news agency trustworthy?
There are several factors that need to be measured when judging the trustworthiness of a news agency. However, these factors can become to complex and intricate to be measured, especially for an ordinary citizen.
Nonetheless, following are four things that you can look for in a news source to judge if it is reliable or not:
A reliable news source has extensive protocol in place to ensure the authenticity of the news. These agencies ensure that each and every news goes through each and every step of the process before it reaches the public.
The difference between a reliable news source and an unreliable one is essentially of transparency.
A reliable news agency will provide all the sources from which the information was obtained and all the measures it took to verify it. It will also provide links to all the sources of information.
Furthermore, a transparent news source tends to categorize opinionated articles as such and indicate all possible biases or conflict of interests.
Reliable news agencies tend to hire experienced professionals that have the required education and experience in ethical journalism. Moreover, new recruits are trained by the organization so that they are able to produce the same level of authenticity despite of their personal biases.
Lastly, the main aim of a news agency should be to provide facts. A reliable news agency does not aim to promote a certain school of thought or help elect a certain political party.
Most Reliable News Sources
After rigorous research and based on findings by various reputable sources, here are the most reliable news sources available:
16. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
David and Elaine Potter founded the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in 2010. Based in London, the Bureau is a non-profit organization, supported by philanthropists.
The mission statement of the Bureau reads:
Inform public about the realities of power
Although there are elements left leaning tendencies and certain biases, the Bureau is still among the most authentic news sources available today.
Their mission is clear in the type of journalism they publish. And though, they are out to prove a point, they make sure every information presented to the public goes through serious research and is based on trusted sources.
The Bureau also works with mainstream news agencies and publishers that are able to present their investigations to a far reaching audience.
One of the major investigations by the Bureau that also won an Amnesty International Media Award was regarding deaths in police custody.
The Bureau teamed up with The Independent and found that the figure of people that had died in police custody while being forcibly restrained was much more than the official figure. This variation of the actual and official figure was due to the fact that the number of individuals that died during forced restraint but were not officially arrested was not included in the official figure.
These findings were also published on an episode of the BBC’s “File on 4.”
15. The Christian Science Monitor
Founded in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy as a response to the sensationalist journalism of the early 1900s, The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) is a non-profit news agency that publishes daily articles online along with a weekly print magazine.
As opposed to it’s name, you will not find any religious doctrine preached in the magazine. However, upon the founder’s request, a daily religious article is published in every issue of the Monitor.
The Monitor has maintained a positive reputation over the century while also being independent from influence of the mainstream media corporations.
Politico is a US based news agency that covers political news and policy in America and internationally.
Politico was formed by John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei who left The Washington Post as reporters to become Politico’s editor-in-chief and executive editor. Politico emerged as a major player in America’s journalism. Moreover, in September of 2014, Politico expanded through Europe in a joint venture with a German publisher Axel Springer SE.
Apart from print, Politico publishes its content through website, television, radio, and podcasts.
Politico is comparatively unbiased as compared to other news agencies which is also supported by a study conducted in 2012 that revealed that the percentage of Democrat readers (29%) was equal to the ones that call themselves Republicans.
13. The New Yorker
The New Yorker started off as a weekly magazine in 1925 and now publishes 47 times a year.
The New Yorker has expanded it’s viewership on the web offering its content to readers across the globe that was only available to its print subscribers.
Journalism, essays, commentary, criticism, fiction, and satire are some of the topics covered by The New Yorker magazine. It is one of the rare sources of reports on economy, business, and politics that are not only accurate and factual but also quite interesting and enjoyable to read.
Although The New Yorker is known to lean a bit to the left, the conservative readers tend to ignore it to enjoy some of the best journalism and writing in the world.
In the era of social media when fake news is on the rise, thankfully, we have Snopes that has taken upon itself for the accountability and fact-checking of all the news spread online.
Meaning, Snopes, unlike other organizations on our list of most reliable news sources, is not actually a news agency in itself. Rather, it is a kind of watchdog that digs into all the rumors and news spread online to fetch out the truth behind them.
Mostly going unnoticed, Snopes has been carrying out its mission since the early days of the internet.
As we have seen, especially after Facebook took heat for all fake news being spread during the elections, the consequences of fake news are quite disastrous. This calls for a protocol of scrutiny so that all fake news is eradicated from social media, that is the main source of information for most of the younger generation.
Therefore, Facebook is now collaborating with Snopes and other trusted fact-checkers so that they can minimize the spread of fake news as much as possible.
11. USA Today
Founded by Al Neuharth, USA Today is the most circulated newspaper in the United States followed by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
Not only is the newspaper distributed in all 50 states of the US, but an international edition is also distributed across Canada, Europe, Asia,and the Pacific Islands.
Both their newspapers and website contain four main sections, viz. news, money, sports, and life.
The op-eds of USA Today are not only labeled but, unlike various other publications, also show a wide range of viewpoints.
10. Public Broadcasting Service
Public Broadcasting Service or the PBS is a US based, non-profit public broadcaster and TV program distributor. The PBS is well known for distributing educational programs for children the help them learn. Most notable among these programs are Sesame Street, Barney & Friends, and Arthur.
The PBS is one of those news agencies that is trusted mostly by both the Democrats and the Republicans which speaks a lot regarding their dependability and trustworthiness.
Funding of the PBS comes from member station dues, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, private foundations, and individuals to name a few. However, this funding is subject to a protocol that ensures there is zero influence in the programs.
9. The Economist
James Wilson established The Economist in September 1843 and it has been publishing its magazine-styled weekly newspaper, since.
Unlike other newspapers on the list, The Economist is quite clear and bold about its perspective. The editorial stance of the newspaper is in support of the classical economic liberalism. Therefore, you’d find their issues supporting free trade, globalization, free immigration, and cultural liberalism.
Nonetheless, The Economist is known to published news based on facts and figures after thorough editing. Part of the reason why the newspaper is considered reliable despite being open about its political stance is that, unlike others, it does not display a byline of the authors. Thus, giving the newspaper a sense of individuality.
8. National Public Radio
National Public Radio, commonly known as NPR, is a non-profit organization that makes radio programming for public radio stations throughout the US.
Due to the availability of newer and more effective means of communication the radio has become outdated. Thus, the NPR has been struggling to retain it’s older members. Also, NPR is trying its best to find ways to attract newer audience i.e. younger public.
However, since there will always be people driving cars the audience for radio will exist.
Although the non-profit organization has been known to provide factual, unbiased news there have been allegations of it being left-leaning. This comes as no surprise, especially because of the fact that the organization is funded by people known to identify as left-leaning.
Therefore, if you find yourself listening to their opinions in terms of politics, do not be surprised if you smell a little bias. But, it does not mean that the information presented is not true.The fact is that there can be information that is factual but still biased.
In such scenarios, the best way to reach the truth is to be conscious of the biases involved.
In conclusion, it would be unjust not to mention the award winning journalist of NPR that have bravely sacrificed their lives in search for the truth; for example, while reporting the truths of the Iraq war.
So, if you are looking for factual news, with minimum bias, NPR is our best bet. And that is the reason why it is among those news sources that has witnessed a rise in their ratings.
Established in 1979 by the cable industry, Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network (C-SPAN) is a non-profit, public access channel that live streams the proceedings directly from the House and Senate of the United States.
Contrary to popular belief, C-SPAN is not run by the federal government. Nevertheless, those in charge of the activities of the house can ask the cameras to be turned off. But, beyond that, they have no power over the transmission.
Although C-SPAN is not a news source in the conventional sense, it provides a great source for fact-checking. For example, if you want to check the authenticity of political news, there is no better way to do that than to watch it on C-SPAN.
Is there a better way to know what a certain congressman said than to actually hear him yourself on television?
Apart from providing coverage of the proceedings of the US federal government, C-SPAN also reports US political events and coverage (limited) of the governments of Canada, Australia, and the UK.
6. The New York Times
Being one of the most popular newspaper in the world, The New York Times needs hardly any introduction.
The New York Times is the third most circulated newspaper in the world while it is ranked 18th in the world (based on circulation). Since it’s establishment in 1851, the newspaper has won a total of 127 Pulitzer Prizes; the highest number of Pulitzer Prizes won by any newspaper.
In a discussion about ideal journalism and ethical journalistic standards, NYT is most often the one cited as an example. Nevertheless, like any other news source, NYT is also known to retain a certain bias.
Despite it’s factual and transparent reporting, the New York Times has been known to be a little left-leaning especially when it comes to political news.
But that does not mean the newspaper cannot be relied upon when it comes to information on political events. But, when reading, it is better to be mindful of the left-leaning biases of the newspaper so that you can read between the lines to reach the objective truth.
Having a slightly left-leaning bias does not hint that the newspaper has a underlying agenda. This is just an indicator of the inevitable personal biases of the reporters of the agency based upon their educational background and life experiences.
The popularity and trustworthiness of the New York Times can be judged by the fact that when Donald Trump (now the President of the United States) criticized the newspaper for reporting allegedly biased news before the elections, the public stood against Trump.
Moreover, shortly after the elections, the newspaper witnessed a sudden increment in it’s subscribers. This signifies the fact that in times of endless fake news, people are turning towards legitimate and trustworthy sources of news.
Funded through the United Kingdom’s Television Licence fee, The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). BBC World is the world’s largest international broadcasting network broadcasting speeches, discussions, radio news in over 40 different languages across various regions of the world.
According to a survey conducted by GfK Social Research, the general UK public reacted positively (64%) towards their views on BBC. Most UK residents were of the view that BBC was a fair channel when it comes to unbiased and authentic news.
Such a positive rating speaks volumes in favor of the authenticity of the news agency especially because it is common to see citizens being more critical about the authenticity and reliability of their national news channels.
Moreover, the fact that it is funded by the British Government means that they aren’t under the power of any corporate entity that might interfere with the authenticity of their news.
But again, it is essential to state that regardless of a rather central approach towards political news, their is still some bias involved which cannot be ignored. Nevertheless, being a bit biased does not signify authenticity, in fact it depicts the human capacity of being biased no matter how much effort is put in presenting an objective reality.
4. The Washington Post
With 47 Pulitzer Prizes to its name, The Washington Post, is the most circulated newspaper in the Washington metropolitan area.
The major American daily newspaper owned by Jeff Bezos (founder and CEO of Amazon) is part of the big three national newspapers including NWT and WSJ.
In the early 1970s, two reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein led the investigation what later became known as the Watergate scandal. Their reporting for The Washington Post significantly contributed in the resignation of President Richard Nixon on August 9, 1974.
Among the big three newspapers, it is known to be the most modern thinking in regards to applying modern digital strategies which has resulted in increased readership for them.
Many are of the view that The Washington Post’s editorial page is left-leaning, however, it is, at most, center-left in comparison to the NYT.
3. The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal is a rather controversial entry in our list of reliable news sources. The reason for it’s controversy is its right-leaning biases. Many believe the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal are quite conservative and you can guess that most of them are left-leaning themselves.
Despite of there being a certain level of truth to these allegations, The Wall Street Journal has proved itself to be a trusted source of authentic information.
The WSJ is owned by News Corporation run by the Murdoch family. Rupert Murdoch is known to be a conservative. There have been countless allegations against Murdoch for using his significant media power to influence politics in favor of his viewpoint. Moreover, some of his media outlets have a bad reputation for spreading biased and inaccurate news.
Regardless, the WSJ has retained a good reputation in regards to authentic and unbiased news even after being bought by News Corporation on 1st August, 2007.
The Journal’s authenticity can be measured by the fact that it is not only the second most circulated newspaper in the United States, but has also bagged 37 Pulitzer Prizes till date.
A study conducted in 2015 revealed that The Wall Street Journal was the least likely to publish reports on the harmful effects of climate change among several other news papers. The editorial board of the Journal is also alleged to reject the scientific consensus on the actuality of climate change.
Therefore, when reading political news on the Journal, especially the opinion section, keep an eye out for right-leaning biases. Whereas, when it comes to reporting on news, especially related to finance, is of great authenticity.
Reuters is not exactly a news agency is a conventional sense; that is you cannot subscribe to it. Owned by Thomson Reuters, Reuters is one of the most trusted wire services.
A wire service provides news to newspapers, radio and television stations through wire.
The main idea behind wire services is that they have a huge network of journalists that wire news throughout the world through telegraph. This process eradicates the need to have a reporter everywhere. This is why, you might have seen well known newspapers cite Reuters under their articles.
However, in recent years, Reuters, along with other wire services have had a tough time maintaining their business. Therefore, they have switched to posting more stories on their websites instead of selling their reports to other newspapers or news agencies.
As a consequence, more bias has infiltrated their stories which would be minimized if they would keep selling facts and figures to other news agencies like they did in the good old days.
Reuters is well known for its “value-neutral approach” that is put in place to minimize bias. However, this approach faced much controversy, especially after they didn’t use the word “terrorist” after the 9/11 attacks.
Furthermore, Reuters assures that it journalists stick to the doctrine dictated in their “Handbook of Journalism” which is known to be a great resource for any reporter.
If you are interested in following them, you can do so by following their online presence or that of the reporters of such wire services organizations.
1. Associated Press News
In a world torn apart by fake news and propaganda, Associated Press News is not less than salvation for those seeking the truth. Founded in 1846, is a US based non-profit wire service, more or less similar to Reuters.
The AP reports news in English, Spanish, and Arabic and distributes it to its members. In 2016, more than 1300 newspapers and news agencies published/republished reports collected by the AP.
The Associated Press News is a symbol of factual and unbiased news because of which it has won 53 Pulitzer Prizes. One of these was given to AP in 2019 for international reporting for covering the civil war in Yemen.
Wire services like Reuters and the AP are great for other news agencies that can neither copy news published by its competitors nor can they afford to send someone to the place of action.
In a world where sensationalized and propaganda news has plagued most news agencies it is nice to see an organization that sticks to the essence of journalism.
The struggle for authenticity
Our list of reliable news sources is by no means foolproof. The news sources mentioned in this list are not perfect and have been known to be biased or unreliable at times. This list includes news agencies known to be comparatively reliable than the rest.
Therefore, it is important to note that there is no single news source that is the most authentic.
The search for truth is not easy. And If you want to get factual, unbiased information, you need to take the following steps:
- Get information from various sources (including the sources with opinions opposite to yours)
- Try to detect any bias involved and filter out the truth
- Be conscious of your own biases
- Take consideration of the context
- Know that sometimes the truth is not what you want it to be
It is important to note that sometimes, there is no such thing as an objective truth, and even if there is, it is too hard to find. Therefore, sometimes your truth might not be compatible with someone else’s truth.