MIT Technology Review is a bimonthly science and technology magazine associated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “the world’s foremost technology institution.” The publication is known for its annual series on innovators under 35, the top 10 technology breakthroughs of the year, and the world’s 50 smartest companies. Despite the magazine’s strong background, it’s worth asking: how reliable are articles from MIT Technology Review?

How Factual Is MIT Technology Review? 

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, MIT Technology Review scored an average Factual Grade of 75.6%. This is well above the 61.9% average for all 245 news sources that we analyzed and places the magazine in the 96th percentile of our dataset. 

The publication’s high average is due to a number of factors. Its articles tend to incorporate numerous, high-quality sources, and the site’s authors exhibit high levels of topical expertise. However, articles at times can incorporate opinionated language or headlines.

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

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How Opinionated Is MIT Technology Review?

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.

MIT Technology Review had an average Writing Tone score of 0.61, placing it in the 48th percentile in our dataset. This suggests that articles from the site tend to have a moderately opinionated writing tone. 

What Is the MIT Technology Review’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 MIT Technology Review a Center bias. (AllSides has not yet reviewed MIT Technology Review.)

MBFC classifies MIT Technology Review as “Pro-Science,” which it defines as relying on extensive evidence, scientific sourcing of information, and unemotional language. Such sources may at times have a slight political bias, but the site appears largely centrist and science-driven. However, bias has appeared at times, such as in titles like “The Gaping, Dangerous Hole in the Trump Administration.” 

The magazine’s editorial guidelines detail its approach: 

We don't reflexively give equal weight to all sides of a discussion. In matters of controversy, we will report the arguments of both sides fairly; but our ethical obligation is not to please any interest or party to a debate, but to bear witness to the truth if we know it, or to delineate the terms of the controversy if the truth of the matter is genuinely in doubt.

Who Owns MIT Technology Review?

MIT Technology Review is entirely owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a highly regarded, privately owned university often recognized among the world’s top academic institutions. Despite the university’s full ownership of the magazine, MIT Technology Review maintains editorial independence:

We benefit from the Institute's many resources, including easy access to its prominent faculty and researchers. At the same time, our coverage of technology is independent of MIT. We do not favor people or technologies simply because they are associated with the Institute.

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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.