Newsweek is a well-known American news magazine that provides “the latest news, in-depth analysis and ideas about international issues, technology, business, culture and politics.” Sold by the Washington Post Company in 2010 for just $1 and following years of financial trouble, Newsweek has experienced a bit of a revival in recent years, finishing 2021 “debt-free and profitable.” Accompanying this revival has been a shift in overall political bias; the magazine was previously thought of as having a strong leftward bias but today has a far more centrist reputation. With this background, The Factual asks: how reliable are articles from Newsweek?

How Factual Is Newsweek? 

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, Newsweek scored an average Factual Grade of 49.4%, placing it in the 9th percentile of our dataset. This is well below the 61.9% average for all 245 news sources that we analyzed.

A number of factors help explain these low scores. Articles from Newsweek often neglect to include adequate sourcing of information, meaning that links to external articles are only intermittently present and may link to an insufficiently diverse range of sources. Authors for Newsweek demonstrate varied levels of topical expertise, meaning that the site employs writers who may lack a demonstrated background in a topic area according to our algorithm. Finally, articles may include opinionated language and headlines, such as “Republicans Don’t Want to Pay Their Own Bills.”

Like any news source, scores for articles from Newsweek varied widely based on factors like author expertise and cited evidence. For example, some scored above 70%, while others scored below 40%.

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How Opinionated Is Newsweek?

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.

Newsweek had an average Writing Tone score of 0.67, placing it in the 64th percentile in our dataset. This suggests that articles from Newsweek tend to have a moderately opinionated writing tone. This is particularly true of the site’s opinion pieces, though these are clearly labeled as opinion and not “straight” news.

What Is Newsweek’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 Newsweek a Moderate Left bias.

AllSides classifies Newsweek as having a “Center” bias, marking a shift from a “Left” bias prior to May 2020. In fact, AllSides conducted a blind bias survey in February 2022 in which 50% of respondents indicated that Newsweek was right of center. In 2020, AllSides undertook two reviews of Newsweek’s content and found strong evidence for reclassifying the site as centrist. For example, they note that the site “did not predictably publish perspectives or articles favoring either end of the political spectrum” and that the opinion section was “particularly balanced, featuring left- and right-wing views.” They further give the site credit for largely steering away from sensational language, spin, and other common forms of media bias.

MBFC rates Newsweek as having a “Moderate Left” bias due to “editorial positions that slightly favor the left.” While MBFC notes that Newsweek does showcase politically diverse viewpoints, they tend to be more supportive of left-leaning causes. This bias can be seen through article titles such as “Media Have Every Right to Cancel Trump” and “‘Republican Mob’ Was Once an Oxymoron, Now It’s a Reality.” MBFC also gives the publication credit for “proper sourcing and timely correction of errors.”

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Who Owns Newsweek?

Founded in 1933, Newsweek has gone through a number of ownership periods. It belonged to the Washington Post Company from 1961 until 2010, was at one point merged with the Daily Beast, and now is its own entity, spun off from IBT Media in 2018. Its co-owners are Dev Pragad, the CEO and president, and Jonathan Davis, who has “no operational role at Newsweek.” Pragad has overseen a financial revival of the magazine and is outspoken about his desire to uphold editorial independence. In an internal memo in April 2022, Pragad highlighted “the importance of journalistic independence and integrity” and his desire to “ensure that the independence of the newsroom is stipulated in company bylaws.” Newsweek is funded by subscriptions 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.