Media bias is a prevalent concern in our society, making it crucial to understand and identify. My recent episode on the Communication TwentyFourSeven Podcast delves into this issue, specifically examining Ad Fontes Media (AFM), a company that has taken up the mantle to provide transparency in the media landscape through its Media Bias Chart®. I respond to accusations asserted against AFM by the Media Research Center (MRC) and the methodology AFM employs to dissect media bias.
Full disclosure: I am the Communications Director and Analyst Manager at AFM, so yes, I guess you could accuse me of being biased. You would be correct. We all are. And that’s kinda the point of why we do what we do at AFM. Beyond that, however, and perhaps the most important aspect, is how we do what we do. There are crucial steps we have taken to mitigate our own bias while keeping our integrity intact.
One key focus of the episode is content analysis, a scientific method that AFM uses to evaluate media bias and reliability. This research technique has been refined over hundreds of years to analyze themes and patterns in text from various channels of communication. These channels through which we send and receive information include newspapers, podcasts, TV shows, and of course, social media platforms. Although there are many different ways information is shared, these are the types I am focusing on today. Back to content analysis. The beauty of content analysis lies in its capacity to reduce subjective bias and generate quantitative data that allows for robust statistical analysis.
The driving force behind this episode is the MRC’s claims against AFM. It's essential to clarify that AFM, despite accusations, maintains a robust methodology to ensure objectivity and consistency in its ratings. I dissect MRC’s claims in the episode, providing listeners with a comprehensive understanding of how AFM stands up to the accusations.
A significant part of the episode is dedicated to explaining the Media Bias Chart, a tool developed by AFM to capture the bias and reliability of various media outlets. I challenge misrepresentations surrounding the chart made by the MRC, emphasizing the importance of understanding the chart correctly. I explain why the static version of the chart only includes a few of the 3200+ sources, how the MRC’s conclusions are flawed, and why AFM is a trustworthy organization staffed and supported by trustworthy people. This isn't about gatekeeping; it's about ensuring the rigorous research that goes into every rating is valued.
My goal with this episode is to contribute to a more informed appreciation of media consumption. As consumers of media, understanding the potential biases and the level of reliability in the information we consume is crucial. With AFM’s Media Bias Chart, we have a tool that aids in this process.
I hope you take the time to listen to this podcast episode, as it stands as a testament to the need for transparency in the media landscape. Ad Fontes Media, with its scientifically backed methodology and the Media Bias Chart, plays a pivotal role in providing that transparency. I’m proud of the work we do at AFM because I wholeheartedly believe the work we do is a step towards a more well-informed society. The importance of critical media consumption cannot be understated, and tools like the Media Bias Chart help pave the way for a more media-literate public.