The LA Times is a leading voice for news across the LA Metropolitan Area with many notable achievements, including 47 Pulitzer Prize awards, 1.3 million daily readers, and 27 million monthly website visits, which also gives it a national profile. At times, however, the newspaper receives criticism for having a liberal bias. This leads The Factual to ask two questions: how credible is the LA Times, and how biased is its coverage? 

How Factual Is the LA Times? 

The Factual analyzed 785,000 news articles from 32 major news sources between January 1, 2020, and May 18, 2021. To be included in the dataset, a news source must have published at least 5,000 articles over the time period, or at least 10 articles per day.

The LA Times scored an average rating of 66.9% across 29,519 articles. This is above the 62.0% average for all articles in the dataset, placing the LA Times in the 63rd percentile.

The Factual’s news algorithm rates articles on four key metrics: writing tone, author expertise, cited evidence, and publication history (see our How It Works page to learn more). These ratings reveal how content varies not just between publishers but from article to article. For example, some articles from the LA Times scored more than 90%, while others scored less than 50%. Lower-scoring articles from the LA Times appear to often be due to no assigned author (meaning a low score for author expertise) or due to a lack of hyperlinks (meaning a low score for cited evidence).

A high rating suggests that an article is informative, relatively objective, and written by relevant experts. A low score means that many of these factors are missing or cannot be verified. Although such articles may still have merit, they may warrant a closer look.

How Biased Is the LA Times? 

Together, studies from media organizations suggest the LA Times has a Moderate Left bias.

AllSides assigns the LA Times a “Lean Left” media bias, based on community feedback and independent research. In the most recent analysis from AllSides, a survey of 8,591 users across the political spectrum found most people agreed that the newspaper had a “Lean Left” bias. Yet, a survey of over 700 users in July 2016 found there to be a (small) majority of people that disagreed with the bias rating. Among those who disagreed, users viewed the LA Times as presenting a “Center” bias, and the average media bias remains on the border between “Center” and “Lean Left.” AllSides maintains low confidence in this rating, as more research needs to be done.

Media Bias/Fact Check (MBFC), another organization that monitors media bias, concluded the LA Times has a “slight-to-moderate liberal” or “Left-Center” bias. This is in part due to reporting that utilizes “loaded words.” As with many news outlets, this reflects an attempt to influence how audiences should feel about a certain cause through the use of emotional appeal or stereotypes. Despite this, MBFC recognizes the LA times to be a continued source of trustworthy information with a “high credibility” due to factual reporting. This includes a clean fact-check record to date.

MBFC notes implicit in headlines such as, “Outgoing White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly Defends Rocky Tenure” and “Engaging with the world doesn’t make Americans ‘suckers’.” Within the latter article, the Editorial Board makes loaded statements such as “Congress needs to focus not only on how amateurishly Trump executes foreign policy but the clear shortcomings of the policy itself.” These examples—one politics article and one opinion piece—show how news stories from the LA Times at times may exhibit a liberal bias.  

Who Owns the LA Times? 

Biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong—a surgeon, scientist, and entrepreneur—bought the LA Times in 2018. Soon-Shiong’s interests in non-partisan news led to his active ownership in several newspapers. These include the San Diego Tribune and several community papers. In 2014 and 2016, Forbes declared Soon-Shiong the richest doctor in history. He was also the highest-paid CEO in 2016, with a package worth $148 million. Today, Soon-Shiong is the wealthiest man in Los Angeles, with a net worth of $7.9 billion.

This shift in ownership has resulted in some criticism over Soon-Shiong’s vision to transform the daily newspaper into a multimedia platform for independent, innovative, and “engaging journalistic skills.” This includes a shift to shortened information formats aimed at younger generations and playing into hyperpartisan discourse. However, he maintains that the goal is to detach unbiased news, factual reporting, and non-partisan media from fake news.

How to Mitigate Biases

All news articles have some bias because all authors have a basis from which they describe a story. Bias ratings are useful in understanding this frame of reference. However, it can be more useful to know how factual an article is based on the cited evidence and the tone of writing. This is what the Factual Grade helps to measure.

Despite its left-leaning bias, the LA Times is known for quality journalism, factual reporting, and credible sourcing of information. Ultimately, reading highly rated articles across the political spectrum helps to counter the bias of any news source or story.

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Published by Michelle Lee

Michelle is a growth and marketing professional at The Factual. She has a B.S. degree in psychology and a minor in public health from San Jose State University. Before joining The Factual, she assisted as a psychology researcher, behavioral health coordinator, and digital marketing freelancer.