The Boston Globe, established 150 years ago, styles itself as “​​New England’s best source for news, sports, opinion and entertainment.” The New York Times Company purchased the paper in 1993 when it was “one of the nation’s most prestigious papers in a far more robust newspaper environment.” In 2013, the paper was sold to John W. Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, a move taken due to falling circulation and revenue. The paper has since undergone a bit of a revival, reportedly having more than doubled its pre-pandemic digital subscription base—a level thought to be necessary for the paper to be self-sustaining. Amid this revival, The Factual asks: how factual is the Boston Globe, and how biased is its content?

How Does The Factual Rate News Sources? 

The Factual analyzes more than 10,000 news stories every day to help readers find the most informative, least-biased articles. Our news-rating algorithm scores each article along four metrics: (1) cited sources and quotes, (2) publication history, (3) writing tone, and (4) author expertise. These scores combine in a weighted average we call a Factual Grade, which ranges from 0–100%. (See our How It Works page to learn more about our algorithm.)

For this study, we analyzed ~1,000 articles each from 240 news sources. The average Factual Grade for the entire dataset was 62.5%. Based on these averages, we can compare the performance of news sites across the media ecosystem. The entire dataset can be explored in greater detail here.

How Factual Is Boston Globe? 

The Boston Globe scored an average Factual Grade of 58.6%, placing it in the 24th percentile of our dataset. This below average score is driven by a combination of positive and negative factors. For example, many articles are written in a neutral tone, which leads to higher scores. Likewise, the publication is awarded a “High” score for site quality due to a history of publishing quality content. However, articles tend to score low for cited evidence and sources because they either link to few external sources or link mostly to other Boston Globe content. Finally, the newspaper receives mixed scores for author expertise, a sign that authors do not always have a verifiable record of writing on their topic or haven’t published high-scoring articles on the topic. The Factual values author expertise because it signals that the author is familiar with a topic and likely to include relevant, beneficial context.

Like any news source, scores for articles from the Boston Globe vary widely based on these factors. For example, some scored above 80%, while others scored below 50%.

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How Opinionated Is the Boston Globe?

One of the metrics The Factual uses is the Writing Tone, which measures how opinionated the writing is in an article. For this metric, the algorithm looks for signs of subjective commentary (e.g., first person pronouns and unnecessary adverbs), as well as the emotional nature of selected words, and sees how prevalent they are for a given length of text. More neutral text receives higher ratings, with “0” being the most opinionated and “1” being the most neutral.

The Boston Globe had an average Writing Tone score of 0.63, placing it in the 54th percentile in our dataset for this metrix. This suggests that articles from the site use a mix of neutral and opinionated language. This is evident in titles such as “Potential political surprises ahead in state Democratic primary races,” though others are more opinionated such as “The clown show at the state GOP.”

How Biased Is the Boston Globe?

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 the Boston Globe a Moderate Left bias. 

AllSides rates the Boston Globe as “Left” based on independent research and 3,239 community ratings. Though AllSides initially rated the newspaper as “Lean Left,” they changed that rating to “Left” in 2021 due to “story choice that consistently favors progressive and/or left-wing stances and a frequent lack of including dissenting voices or conservative perspectives in political news stories.” However, AllSides has yet to complete a full editorial review of the paper and therefore assigns this rating a “low” or “initial” confidence rating.

By contrast, MBFC rates the Boston Globe as “Left-Center” based on “editorial positions that moderately favor the left.” They see minimal bias in headlines such as “Trump says he will end birthright citizenship via executive order” but note that story selection broadly favors the left and that the paper has consistently endorsed Democratic candidates. Finally, MBFC rates the newspaper as having a strong reputation for factual reporting, noting only one failed fact check in recent memory. 

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Who Owns the Boston Globe?

The Boston Globe is owned by Boston Globe Media, a company belonging to James Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox. Boston Globe Media also owns the rising health and science website STAT. It is unclear if Henry’s ownership influences the political bias of the Boston Globe, but it’s worth noting that STAT is separately rated as having a Center bias. The newspaper is funded through 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.

This article was updated on September 15, 2022 to reflect new data.

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.