Frequently Asked Questions
What is Media Bias/Fact check?
Media Bias/Fact Check (MBFC News) is an independent online media outlet. MBFC is dedicated to educating the public on media bias and deceptive news practices. We also provide original articles on media bias, journalism, and politics. On our social media pages, we provide current news and events from low biased sources as well as all content posted on our website.
Who owns and runs Media Bias/Fact Check?
Media Bias Fact Check, LLC is a Limited Liability Company owned solely by Dave Van Zandt. He also makes all final editing and publishing decisions.
Who in the heck is Dave Van Zandt?
Dave M. Van Zandt obtained a Communications Degree before pursuing a higher degree in the sciences. Dave currently works full time in the health care industry. Dave has spent more than 20 years as an armchair researcher on media bias and its role in political influence. For the record, he also is not the President of the New School, that is a different David E. Van Zandt who is the head of a liberal college in New York City. I am an unaffiliated voter from North Carolina.
Does Media Bias/Fact Check have any employees?
Yes and no. At the moment we have five volunteers who perform source research, writing and assist in fact-checking. We hope to be able to offer to pay for their services in the future as the website grows.
Who funds Media Bias/Fact Check?
We have an account with Google’s AdSense. We strictly rely on third party advertising, meaning we do not pick the ads so that we can remain free of influence. These ads generate a fraction of penny per page view. Thus far the bulk of our minimal funds come from these ads. We also have a donate button on our website and a Patreon account that allows people to donate whatever amount they choose to help fund this project. We do not accept funding from any businesses, corporations, politicians, or media outlets, to again remain free from influence. Lastly, we offer a membership for ad-free browsing at a cost of $5 per month.
How do you determine the bias of a source?
Please see our comprehensive Methodology page. Keep in mind this is not a scientifically proven methodology. It is a simple tool that provides a general rating of bias. Results may vary based on the person performing the evaluation. However, our field tests show a close correlation in ratings regardless of political bias.
What are the credentials of Media Bias/Fact Check?
None of the MBFC team are professional journalists. We actually see this as an advantage as we are media consumers just like you. Each person on the team is college-educated in a variety of fields with a common interest in keeping the media accountable for their words and information.
You are wrong! Why is (such and such) source in this category?
We use the same methodology to evaluate every source. We freely publish the methodology so that anyone can rate sources on their own. Reading bias is quite subjective based on the individual readers’ own biases. We use a team approach to combat this. We suggest you try our methodology on the source in question before declaring it wrong or labeling MBFC as left or right bias. The fact that we get accused of both probably means we are doing a good job.
Do you ever change source ratings?
Yes, we do. There would be two reasons to change a source’s rating. One is that we noticed or re-reviewed the source and saw something we missed or perhaps the source changed. Since the election of 2016, some sources have changed affiliation or moved further left or right. We try to make adjustments when we see this.
I own a source and I don’t like my rating, will you change it?
Maybe. We will have another one of our researchers review it. We will add the researcher’s comments and if a change is warranted we will adjust the rating to fit the score based on methodology. In other words, we won’t change it unless there is solid evidence to do so.
What is the difference between a Daily Source Bias Check and the main source listing?
There isn’t a difference. The Daily Source Bias Check is a copy of the information from the source’s main page on the website. We post the daily bias check as a way to spotlight a different source each day. With 2000 sources on the website and counting many might not have heard of the source.
What is the difference between the bias rating arrow and the voting poll?
The bias rating arrow found on top of source pages is determined by MBFC researchers using our methodology. This is the official bias rating that we endorse. The voting poll serves two purposes. First, it is a way for people to interact with the website and to voice their opinion. Second, it gives the reader more information. They can compare our rating to the public’s opinion to see if there is a significant difference or not. To be clear, the voting poll does not impact the bias rating arrow.
I’ve seen negative articles written about MBFC. Why is that?
It is simple. Highly biased websites that are not always factual don’t like us exposing them. Since we back our ratings with evidence they don’t really have any recourse other than to discredit our website and ratings. We fully expect this but are confident the readers of this website will be able to look at the source, our ratings, and decide for themselves who is credible.
Why do you use Wikipedia on some reviews?
The short answer is it saves time when locating the background of a source. For example, where they are located, when they were established and who owns it, etc?. It also is a stepping stone to credible links that may help with the research. Wikipedia is not used in any way to determine a source’s rating. Ratings are determined by reading articles and calculating a score using our methodology. Further, we also use Politifact, Fact Check, Snopes, and other credible fact-checking sites to help determine factual reporting.
Are your ratings objective?
All sources are rated objectively using our methodology which calculates a score. However, every source on this website has been reviewed by a human being, who certainly does have a bias. This means that a different reviewer using our methodology may come up with a slightly different score. Our testing has concluded that people from different political affiliations have similar scores once they understand how to apply the methodology. So, the answer is ratings are somewhat subjective.
Why do you have more Right Wing sources listed?
The first 500 or so sources reviewed were picked by the reviewers and were mostly balanced. The last 2000+ sources added have been submitted by users. We have found that right-wing sites are submitted for review more. Significantly more! We review what we get. We would love to have more left-wing sites submitted for review to provide more balance. Further, prior to and after the election of 2016, there was an explosion of fake right-wing websites, many of which originate in the country of Macedonia. We have added several hundred of these sites to our questionable list, which leads to far more right-wing sites being listed at this time.
How can I get a copy of you numerical media bias ratings?
Short answer. You can’t. Our ratings are proprietary and we will not share them. Please don’t misunderstand, we want to, but we made some mistakes early on sharing them and within 2 days a website appeared using these ratings for their own personal gain. You may request our spreadsheet, CVS, etc, but the chances of getting it are low unless you provide solid evidence you are from a credible media, research, or educational source. We need a verifiable ID and a stated purpose of the use. We will then consider your request and get back to you. If we don’t get back to you it means we are not interested. Sorry to be blunt, but we get a lot of requests and can only answer the most serious inquiries.
Why do you rate sources poorly if they do not support the consensus of science?
In order for us to be consistent and to not pick sides, we had to develop a standard that must be adhered to no matter the science. We rely on the consensus of scientists in the specific field, in other words, Climate Scientists for Climate Change (not meteorologists or economists), Geneticists for GMO’s (not holistic healers), and Doctors for vaccines (not Chiropractors). This allows us to be consistent and free from bias. We recognize that there are some studies that may contradict the consensus and report on them is acceptable, however, we require an acknowledgement that these studies differ from the current consensus. If a source makes that distinction they will maintain a High factual rating, if not, they may fall to Mixed factual reporting or be designated to our Questionable or Conspiracy/Pseudoscience list. Lastly, if the consensus changes in a particular science so will our ratings.
How often do you review existing sources?
We re-review the top trafficked sources such as CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the top 300 sites once per year or more, if possible. All other sources are reviewed every one to two years. With over 3000 sources and limited staff, it might take two years for a smaller source to be re-reviewed. However, when new information is sent to us we always update the source as quickly as possible.
I submitted a source to your pending list over 1 year ago, why haven’t you done it?
There are several reasons. First, we have very limited staff to perform these reviews. Second, a good review takes time. Third, we prioritize some sources over others. For instance, we will review a source that has a lot of traffic over one that gets hardly any. We also prioritize Questionable, fake, and or poor sources because the public should have this information as soon as possible.
What is the IFCN and why do you use them to validate factual reporting for sources?
The International Fact-Checking Network, also known as the IFCN by Poynter Institute provides a code of principles that fact-checkers must adhere to. The most important aspect is transparency. In order to be an approved signatory of the IFCN, a source must meet and uphold their strict criteria. We have chosen the IFCN as our standard fact-checkers because they all abide by the same rules. This is important, as the standards are high and even though a fact-checker may be biased in one direction or the other, they are still accountable for transparency and providing evidence for their conclusions. We feel that to reduce bias on our part, it is important to rely on third-party fact-checkers from a wide variety of sources, who are held accountable by the same standards.
You are biased!
Yes, we are human just like you and we like some things and dislike others. Like you, we want the things we think we see and the easy solutions to be true. Sometimes they are not. In order to prevent bias, MBFC relies 100% on consensus science. In other words, there may be outlying studies that prove differently than the consensus, but we have to abide by the consensus until the consensus changes. For example, GMOs are deadly? There is zero evidence of this. When there is enough evidence to support that claim we will change too and publish accordingly. We do not want to be poisoned or die either. We are opposed to false information for any benefit! Regarding Climate Change, the consensus is it is occurring and influenced by humans… until the consensus tilts otherwise we have no choice but to draw our line and be factual. Sorry. If you consider science to be affiliated with a political party that is sad and we hope to help you navigate through that.