On a topic like immigration, there can be hundreds of articles published each day from scores of new sources outlets. How do you find the most informative and factual ones? How can one even quantify what is the most informative article?
At The Factual, we’ve created an algorithm that permits for the comparison of articles on the basis of four quantifiable metrics: the number and diversity of links and direct quotations, the tone of the writing, the topical expertise of the author, and the publishing history of the relevant site. (For more on how this works, watch this video or see our How It Works page.) These metrics combined to make our Factual Grade, which is essentially a measurement of how informative an article is. Armed with these scores, we can compare articles, publishers, and authors on a single metric and produce unique insights about the U.S. media ecosystem.
An obvious application of this data is to find the best articles out there on big news topics in 2021. In the case of immigration and debate over a border “crisis,” we wanted to measure who is producing the best journalism and analysis on U.S. immigration, Biden’s border “crisis,” and the conditions at the southern border of the U.S.
For this particular analysis, we were particularly interested in which articles scored the highest during the recent surge of activity at the border. We identified 5,138 articles related to the border and U.S. immigration between February 1 and April 29 and then zeroed in on the 5 articles with the highest Factual Grade. (Note that in The Factual’s ranking system, scoring 80% is quite difficult — just 6% of articles in our dataset did so.)
There are limitations to our data (for example, we analyze 10,000+ articles a day, but that may not be everything and some articles we cannot score for technical reasons). However, we do believe our metrics capture key aspects of quality journalism.
Here’s our top five articles:
The Top 5 Articles on Immigration and the U.S.-Mexico Border
“The Facts on the Increase in Illegal Immigration” — Lori Robertson
FactCheck.org | Factual Grade: 97% | Publisher Bias: CenterRobertson tackles key questions about the border, including the relative number of crossings this year, the role of Title 42, and the process for dealing with unaccompanied minors.
Key Quote: “All three experts we spoke with told us there may be a perception that the Biden administration is more welcoming to migrants, but ‘Biden has not significantly changed operations at the border since Trump as of yet,’ as Brown said.”
“Migrant apprehensions at U.S.-Mexico border are surging again” — John Gramlich
Pew Research Center | Factual Grade: 90% | Publisher Bias: CenterLeveraging Pew Research’s knack for statistics and hard data, Gramlich investigates the numbers of border crossings in 2021 with an eye for comparison to recent years, including how revisions of Trump-era policies by the Biden administration may be playing a role.
Key Quote: “While the number of monthly apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border is approaching the levels of two years ago, the profile of those being apprehended is very different.”
“Biden’s immigration reset” — John Hudak and Christine Stenglein
Brookings Institute | Factual Grade: 90% | Publisher Bias: Moderate LeftHudak and Stenglein dive headlong into the specific revisions to immigration policy Biden enacted early on in the administration, which fall into three categories: “border/entry policy, interior enforcement, bureaucratic organization.”
Key Quote: “While everyone expected him to make a dramatic break from the hardline policies, inefficiently spent funds, and inhumane endeavors of his predecessor, Donald Trump, Mr. Biden is not just reversing Mr. Trump’s policies, but the policies designed and/or administered by previous presidents.”
“DHS won’t test thousands of migrants before releasing into US and is relying on border communities” — Anna Giaritelli and Cassidy Morrison
Washington Examiner | Factual Grade: 89% | Publisher Bias: Moderate RightGiartelli and Morrison highlight Biden administration immigration policies as they relate to Covid-19. Specifically, there was a concern that those taken into custody by U.S. officials may be being released into communities north of the border without being tested for Covid-19 or detained for an appropriate quarantine period.
Key Quote: “Border Patrol agents look over migrants for symptoms of COVID-19, but the Border Patrol itself cannot administer rapid coronavirus tests and has not tested anyone.”
“Private Companies Maneuvering to Cash in on Biden’s Child Migrant Detention” — John Washington
The Intercept | Factual Grade: 89% | Publisher Bias: LeftWashington takes a critical eye to the potential involvement of for-profit private security firms that may seek to profit from the influx of migrants, particularly the surge in unaccompanied minors.
Key Quote: “Critics of harsh immigration policies and the private detention industry are watching with a wary eye, noting that two of the firms poised to bid for contracts have poor track records with accountability and abuse in migrant detention.”
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