Where Can I Find Actual News & Not Spin & Talking Points
April 15, 2020 3:23 PM   Subscribe

I'm sick of partisan news. How can I cut through the right/left noise and find out what is really going on?

The subject pretty much says it all. I am looking for a source of reliable and intelligent news. CNN, MSNBC and Fox are basically propaganda for their respective parties. I am looking for the least biased news that I can find. Someone with integrity that criticizes people who need to be criticized and shoots straight, regardless of who they support.

I am OK with websites, podcasts etc. It is not so much the delivery method.
posted by Alvin80 to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

-Global News
-BBC (Maybe a tad of spin but so much less than American cable news)
-DW News
-Channel 4 News

These channels report, at least the segments I watch on YouTube. It's calm. Little to no commentary.
posted by loveandhappiness at 3:29 PM on April 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

News Items
posted by WCityMike at 3:35 PM on April 15, 2020

The BBC World Service is by no means perfect, but it's miles away better than cable news. Used to be broadcast globally on shortwave, now it's broadcast as streaming audio.
posted by BungaDunga at 3:37 PM on April 15, 2020 [7 favorites]

Read the news in the major newspapers and magazines instead of watching it. Skip all the editorial opinion articles. Choose one respected journal/newspaper on each side of the divide.
posted by Elsie at 3:43 PM on April 15, 2020 [6 favorites]

keep in mind that if it's free and it's online, it's driven by click traffic (i.e. curated to generate maximal outrage-clicks; truth not so much.)

Plus everything, without exception, is biased. So you need to read stuff from different sides.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:47 PM on April 15, 2020 [7 favorites]

I think you might be looking for two different things. First, if you just want fact-based reporting with minimal bias, I usually refer to AP News (https://apnews.com/), which has seems to be rather succinct and relatively unbiased.

However, they won't provide this aspect: "criticizes people who need to be criticized and shoots straight, regardless of who they support." I would argue that any criticism is going to be biased, and no longer fall under the category of "news." For me, I read several left-wing publications that in my opinion make fair criticisms of many things happening in society, but I wouldn't argue they are unbiased news outlets.
posted by unid41 at 3:49 PM on April 15, 2020 [16 favorites]

News Ellis, by the way, is not free. That having been said, it is run, I'm pretty sure, by a cousin of George W. Bush. That having been said, I'm a screaming liberal, and I find it for the most part pretty objective and useful, enough to pay for a subscription.
posted by WCityMike at 3:49 PM on April 15, 2020

Agree with unid41, I have found that the independent press agencies provide content generally free of editorial comments and opinion. You can use a VPN to look at the BBC sites for various countries - interesting for the diversity of stories and reporting. AP, UPI, Reuters, Bloomberg, AFP (Agence France-Presse) especially if you read French, and CBC are, I think generally reliable and, by and large, free of bias.
posted by sudogeek at 4:03 PM on April 15, 2020

I happen to mainly get my news from AP and Guardian, but I also rely on Pinboard and Pocket. The latter are bookmarking and "read later" services respectively. Both have (IMO) reasonable annual fees. But in addition to helping to manage my own bookmarks and read-it-laters, they also have trending sections. So you discover what others have found interesting or valuable. I find that, and the ability to tag, to be very useful to me. YMMV.
posted by forthright at 4:10 PM on April 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

It is unfortunately not at all true that the independent press agencies' reporting is unbiased. The bias may not lie in the manner of reporting, but rather in their choice of what to include as newsworthy. That includes but is not limited to where to base their journalists, and what articles to print.

For instance: during the last Gaza war, the AP had more journalists stationed in Israel and the Palestinian territories than it did in the entirety of China -- a region containing literally millions of times more people, more land; and of geometrically more import to the rest of the world. That's going to create a huge bias. That's just one example.

Another answer to your question, OP, is to try to get your news as local to its source as possible rather than relying on the curation of sources local to you.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:12 PM on April 15, 2020 [10 favorites]

The Media Bias/Fact Check Web site rates hundreds of news sources based on their bias (Left, Left-Center, Least Biased, Right-Center, Right, Pro-Science, Conspiracy-Pseudoscience, Questionable Sources, Satire) and factual reporting (Very High to Very Low). They also offer a browser extension that displays their bias rating of the Web site you're viewing, and a High Factual Reporting news search.
posted by davcoo at 4:27 PM on April 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

Having read all the posts so far, the summation is there is no bias free news source. Similarly, there is no bias free receiver of the news. That being said, I generally agree with most all the posts. Read a few less-than-standard unbiased sources and deal with the conflicts of reporting.

We read the NY Times and the WSJ. It's so interesting how they generally tell the same news but the import of the news they report is slantingly different. In part for this reason, we want to see the physical editions, since the layout of the news is part of the story. YOU have to be aware of bias, including your own, and account for it.

If you've looked at the history of journalism--for strong examples, read good bios of Hearst and Pulitzer--the idea of objectivity is a modern invention. And like democracy, we've only approximated the ideal.
posted by tmdonahue at 4:31 PM on April 15, 2020 [4 favorites]

ProPublica is doing some of the best investigative reporting in the United States.

posted by forkisbetter at 4:54 PM on April 15, 2020 [17 favorites]

I wouldn't call it unbiased, given that the entire premise is that life under Trump is whack, but WTF Just Happened Today provides factual top-level summaries of US-centric goings-on that you might find helpful.
posted by teremala at 5:08 PM on April 15, 2020

Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News.

News produced for people who pay well for it and have a professional interest that it be reliable. Subscriber base probably 50/50 Democrats and Republicans but 0/100 interested in propaganda, paranoia or cheerleading designed to play to their partisan interest.

Wall Street Journal op-ed stance leans right and Bloomberg op-ed stance leans left so there’s some balance if you read both.
posted by MattD at 5:50 PM on April 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Christian Science Monitor is a standard source that people consider less biased. Just FYI, it is not a religious periodical.
posted by mortaddams at 5:52 PM on April 15, 2020 [4 favorites]

For American news I would go to NPR. They do a very good job of reporting facts and explaining situations in a way that I believe is unbiased.

Unfortunately these days "facts" are not unambiguous, and ultimately you will need to bring your own judgement to the table. There are people who would say that reporting on climate change, and treating climate change as a fact, is itself a manifestation of liberal bias. I would disagree with those people. I think climate change is just a fact. Each person needs to be educated and informed enough to form such judgements.

This is particularly hard when it comes to politics, where the players are trying furiously to interpret events one way or another way. You could ask for a news outlet that just reports what each politician says, but ultimately that wouldn't leave you very well informed. Explaining complex situations requires context, and I believe news outlets are being responsible when they provide that context. Again, NPR does a good job of this. But if the context is "Donald Trump is lying" or "this didn't actually happen the way the politician said", then the reporter can be accused of having bias. Ultimately news and reporting can be messy, and it is up to each person to develop the media literacy to sort it out.

Vox is another outlet that I think does a very good job of reporting and explaining things, but I believe most people would put them solidly in the "liberal" camp, in terms of bias. That may be because they are bleeding hearts and they ignore certain facts. Or it may be that reality has a liberal bias, especially when it comes to things like climate change, or voting rights, or any of a number of subjects.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 5:58 PM on April 15, 2020 [4 favorites]

Ars Technica, ProPublica, WTF Happened Today.

The only way to get a good look at things is deliberately reading high-quality sources on different sides of ideological divides.
posted by Ahniya at 8:02 PM on April 15, 2020

The Economist. Media Bias gives it a Least Biased ranking. I also read the NYT, which leans a little left.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 8:42 PM on April 15, 2020 [4 favorites]

I second propublica, and came in to recommend watching or listening to the PBS newshour "full episode", available on youtube daily, streaming on their site, or as an audio file via your favorite podcast player. I'm surprised it hasn't already been mentioned here. I listen or watch every day. it is also broadcast live on many npr stations.

Also C-SPAN , which has an always on audio feed available on tune in radio and pribably streaming from their site and a varitey of other sources.

I have often enjoyed leaving France24 English live on in the background.. watching it three weeks ago though was like looking into the future in the US and it was .. most unsettling. I think france24 or BBC or any international news is worth listening to bc you'll begin to see what's missing from the domestic focus of most 24 hr us cable news content.

Lastly i whole heartedly recommend checking to see if your tv is antenna ready and if so getting a set top antenna and seeing what over the air channels you have.. local news, while maybe not the broadest in scope, matters and I worry too many people aren't getting it. if you have certain models of tv you may need a converter box bt the tv and the antenna.. but free tv is still a thing ! unfortunately the over the air sgnals are a bit more finicky than before the shift from analog to digital in 2009, but they're still there! youll get pbs.. your local radio will have npr.

nothing is entirely without some bias, but i think these outlets are genuinely trying to be objective. democracy now, the nation, the Indeoendent etc are honest and forthright about their progressive values.. re the subject of bias and neutrality, there's a good howard zinn quote about that in his book "A People's History of the United States" ...

so.. tl;dr , pbs, npr..
posted by elgee at 10:01 PM on April 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

As a general comment regarding the recommendations for facts-only sources: they definitely have their place, but I wouldn't get my news from them.

I think every person has foundational values that cannot be disproven. Personally, I'm probably a humanist plus a firm "believer" in science. If somebody disagrees with me on these values, I cannot prove them wrong and neither can they prove me wrong. But that does not mean we have to meet on middle ground.

I think a newspaper should share your values (and have it's own opinions), all while being absolutely truthful, honest, and rooted in reality. This way you get all the facts and you hear voices of smart people who agree with your core beliefs. This is not the same as "living in a bubble". In fact, I'd say you're much more likely to re-evaluate an opinion if it's challenged by someone you fundamentally agree with.
posted by milan-g at 12:30 AM on April 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

I actually feel like NPR does a pretty decent job. I enjoy listening to the local station so I get some local updates too. Morning Edition has quite a few top notch journalists imo.
posted by monologish at 7:11 AM on April 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

Pro Publica has already been mentioned, but I will add Twitter. YMMV, but I find that by following reporters rather than following their publications or TV networks, you'll not only get your news faster, but you'll get it before it's packaged up with ads.
posted by emelenjr at 8:20 AM on April 16, 2020

Great question! Just a note about Bloomberg, though: Bloomberg News Killed Investigation, Fired Reporter, Then Sought To Silence His Wife (NPR).
posted by taz at 10:33 AM on April 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

Here's an interactive media bias chart
posted by jmsta at 10:59 AM on April 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

On The Media audio podcast from WNYC is criticism of the news reporting, but I get a lot of news that way as well. If you want "Someone with integrity that criticizes people who need to be criticized and shoots straight, regardless of who they support." that's OTM. They do not suffer fools in their interviews.
posted by Gotanda at 4:15 PM on April 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

If it is not so much the delivery method, then it's way easy: talk to as many people as possible who know about the subject and then form your own unbiased opinions. Metafilter!
posted by abuckamoon at 3:31 AM on April 17, 2020

what?! No one reads Reuters? They're dope. I use the app every morning to listen to the headlines. Best photographers imo too.
posted by speakeasy at 2:15 AM on April 19, 2020

i’ve really been enjoying the app winno. it’s focused mostly on us stories and only provides fact based headlines. i think it’s run by humans or maybe by algorithms and then checked by humans before posting(?), which means more niche stories might be missed, but you’re also not gonna get caught up in perspective twelve of what biden said to charlamagne tha god and why it’s gotten more press than trump’s whatever of the day. (that last sentence will not age well.)

posted by ovenmitt at 9:26 PM on May 23, 2020

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