In the media, there may be hundreds or thousands of articles on topics such as immigration, making it hard to find reliable, well-researched journalism. The cacophony of voices on any subject, not to mention the demands of daily life, can make it a herculean task to find the very best reporting on any topic.
The Factual’s AI-powered algorithm allows for the comparison of news articles on the basis of four universal 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. (To find out more about how these work, watch this video or see our How It Works page.) Together, these metrics inform our Factual Grade, which essentially measures how informative an article is, enabling us to compare articles, publishers, and authors on a single, transparent metric.
We are now using the Factual Grade to explore major news topics in 2021. In the case of immigration and debate over a border “crisis,” we are using Factual Grades to document who is producing the best journalism, reporting, and analysis about U.S. immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border in particular.
For this analysis, we were particularly interested in which new sources scored the highest during the recent surge of activity at the border. To do so, we accumulated a dataset of 5,168 articles about the border or U.S. immigration from February 1 to April 29. We further narrowed the search to news outlets that published at least 13 articles over the time period (or about one per week). From the resulting 64 news sources, we looked to see who scored the highest average Factual Grade to determine which news outlets scored the best over the time period. (Note that receiving a Factual Grade of 80% or higher is quite difficult — just 6% of articles in our dataset did so.)
There are clear limitations to this study (e.g., The Factual looks at 10,000+ articles everyday but cannot verifiably analyze everything published in U.S. media). However, we have strong reasons to believe the Factual Grade captures key elements of quality journalism.
Here’s our top five news sources:
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The Top 5 News Sources on Immigration and the U.S.-Mexico Border
Average Factual Grade: 78% | Number of Articles Scored: 25 | Publisher Bias: Left
Vox’s mission is to explain the news as much as recount it, which leads to highly informative and well-researched articles that enable readers to understand the what, how, and when of news, but also the why.
Highest Scoring Article: “What Biden can learn from Obama’s immigration mistakes”
Author: Nicole Narea | Factual Grade: 85%
American Military News
Average Factual Grade: 76% | Number of Articles Scored: 14 | Publisher Bias: Right
American Military News, founded in 2015, is a news outlet with coverage focusing on the U.S. military, foreign affairs, and current events.
Highest Scoring Article: “Iowa gov rejects Biden admin request to house illegal immigrant kids: It’s ‘the president’s problem’”
Author: Liz George | Factual Grade: 86%
Average Factual Grade: 75% | Number of Articles Scored: 22 | Publisher Bias: Moderate Left*
Politifact is a fact-checking group run by the Poynter Institute that is well known for its ratings of the truthfulness of political statements. This is a key service for divisive issues that can quickly become subject to misinformation and disinformation.
Highest Scoring Article: “Facebook post misleads on number of border apprehensions under Biden, Trump”
Author: N/A | Factual Grade: 84%
Average Factual Grade: 75% | Number of Articles Scored: 15 | Publisher Bias: Moderate Right
Reason is a libertarian news outlet that advocates “free minds and free markets.” It seeks to find the middle ground between the left and right of American politics.
Highest Scoring Article: “Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich Sues Biden Administration for Not Studying the Environmental Impact of More Migrants Coming Into the U.S.”
Author: Christian Britschgi | Factual Grade: 82%
Average Factual Grade: 75% | Number of Articles Scored: 66 | Publisher Bias: Moderate Left
As one of the larger traditional news sources, ABC News stands out for its consistently thorough reporting, which is reflected in its average Factual Grade — outscoring outlets such as NBC News, CNBC, and CBS News.
Highest Scoring Article: “Roberta Jacobson, senior Biden official overseeing border, stepping down at end of month”
Author: Ben Gittleson | Factual Grade: 85%
Check out our companion articles:
* A previous version of this article categorized Politifact as have a political bias of “Center,” but the classification should actually be “Moderate Left.” To learn more about how we classify the political bias of each outlet, visit out How It Works page.