Mic is an American media company known for catering to millennials and “helps young people process the present.” The site enjoyed a meteoric rise in the early 2010s, popularized by coverage of the Arab Spring, but faced major cutbacks in 2017 before being purchased by BDG Media. Mic has also developed a reputation for presenting news with an exclusively left-leaning lense. Given this background, The Factual asks: how reliable are articles from Mic?

How Factual Is Mic? 

The Factual’s news-rating algorithm analyzes more than 10,000 articles a day along four metrics: author expertise, publication history, writing tone, and cited sources and quotes. (See our How It Works page to learn more.) For this study, we analyzed 1,000 articles each from 245 major news sources.

Over a dataset of 1,000 articles, Mic scored an average Factual Grade of 68.3%. This is higher than the 61.9% average for all 245 news sources that we analyzed and places the site in the 77th percentile of our dataset. 

Mic’s above average scores are driven upwards by a strong team of authors who regularly publish on the same topics for the site, indicating topical expertise. Many articles exhibit strong sourcing, meaning they link to a diverse range of high-quality sources, though some articles do not reach this standard. However, highly opinionated writing lowers overall scores, driven by highly biased language in many articles.

Like any news source, scores for articles from Mic varied widely based on factors like author expertise and cited evidence. For example, some scored above 90%, while others scored below 50%.

How Opinionated Is Mic?

The Factual measures how opinionated an article is using a sophisticated natural language processing algorithm, producing a score we call the Writing Tone. For this metric, the algorithm looks for signs of subjective commentary (e.g., first person pronouns, unnecessary adverbs), as well as the emotional nature of selected words, and sees how prevalent they are for a given length of text. Text which is less opinionated gets higher ratings, with “0” being the most opinionated and “1” being the most neutral.

Mic had an average Writing Tone score of 0.35, placing it in the 15th percentile in our dataset. This suggests that articles from the site are highly likely to incorporate biased and opinionated language. Such opinionated language can be seen in article titles such as “Biden just took a swing at the terrible house of cards Trump left behind” and “Now that Trump is out Facebook is reportedly ready to suck up to Biden.”

What Is MarketWatch’s Political Bias? 

The Factual classifies news sites by political bias as either Left, Moderate Left, Center, Moderate Right, or Right. This classification comes from third-party assessments from media bias organizations such as AllSides and Media Bias/Fact Check (MBFC). Based on this data, The Factual assigns Mic a Moderate Left bias. (AllSides has not yet completed a full review of Mic.)

MBFC classifies Mic as “Left-Center” due to “editorial positions that favor the left.” They also give the site a “Mixed” rating for factual reporting due to “one-sided bias” and several failed fact checks. While stories from Mic are generally well sourced, MBFC warns that they almost always exhibit a left-leaning bias.

Mic’s “About” page  offers little insight into its overall approach to bias: “We aim to elevate the voices of the underrepresented with authentic storytelling, original reporting, and thought-provoking content that fuels curiosity, creativity, and most importantly, change.”

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Who Owns Mic?

Mic is owned by BDG Media, a media company that owns other brands like Gawker, Inverse, and Bustle. BDG Media is owned by media mogul Bryan Goldberg, the founder of the sport website Bleacher Report. BDG purchased the site in 2018 following a massive layoff of staff after a potential deal with Facebook fell through. There is no clear indication of how the site’s current ownership plays a role in Mic’s daily operation. Funding is generated by sponsored content and advertising. 

Why Does It Matter?

News articles always have some bias because all authors have some frame of reference within which they describe a story. Political bias ratings are helpful in understanding this framing. However, it can be more beneficial to know how factual an article is based on quantifiable metrics that can be seen across the media ecosystem, such as cited evidence, author expertise, and writing tone. This is what The Factual ascertains. 

Reading several, highly rated articles from across the political spectrum helps counter the bias of any news source or story. To have the day’s most factual news stories delivered to your inbox every morning, subscribe to our daily newsletter.

Published by Phillip Meylan

Phillip is a writer, researcher, and editor. At The Factual, he leads research efforts that utilize the company's ever growing data on the media ecosystem. He is also a contributor to FP Analytics, Foreign Policy's research and advisory division, and an adjunct fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.