Reuters is one of the biggest news agencies in the world, employing over 2,500 journalists. Today, it stands out as a wire service often trusted by publications on the right and left. Given this central position, it’s worth asking two questions: How reliable is Reuters and how biased is its coverage?

How Factual Is Reuters?

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, Reuters scored an average Factual Grade of 70.4%. This is well above the average of 61.9% for all 240 news sources that we analyzed, placing Reuters in the 88th percentile of our dataset. These high scores are attributable to Reuters consistent journalistic practices that involve extensive sourcing and neutral, largely unbiased reporting.

Like any news source, scores for articles from Reuters 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 Reuters?

The Factual also 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.

Reuters had an average Writing Tone score of 0.86, giving it the highest overall score for all 240 sources in our dataset. This suggests that articles from Reuters are highly neutral in their reporting, strictly conveying information in an objective and unbiased way.

How Biased Is Reuters?

Together, assessments from media bias organizations indicate that Reuters has a “Center” bias. 

AllSides gives Reuters a “Center” bias, based on survey data, editorial review, and over 28,133 community ratings. However, several recent blind surveys scored the soure as left-leaning. Such a result triggers an editorial review by a bipartisan team.

A review in March 2021 showed Reuters had a “Washington, DC/New York City elite bias in its coverage” but “did not display common types of media bias such as sensationalism, unsubstantiated claims, slant, or omission of source.” The team also noted an anti-Trump bias but, given balanced story coverage, did not think this warranted a change to the bias score.

Meanwhile, Media Bias/Fact Check scores Reuters as “Least Biased,” both for low bias and for highly factual reporting. Stories have “minimal bias and use very few loaded words,” and editors use “minimally biased emotional language in their headlines.”

During the Trump era, for example, Reuters received some criticism of bias, but these cases are rare. Early in the Trump era, the editor in chief noted the need to remain impartial, much as they do around the world. Following the Capital Gazette shooting, a tweet from a Reuters editor placed blame at Trump’s feet; the tweet was quickly removed and labeled as “inconsistent with the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles requiring journalists to maintain freedom from bias.”

Who Owns Reuters?

Reuters is owned by Canadian media conglomerate Thomson Reuters. The Thomson family owns a majority stake in Thomson Reuters through a holding company. David Thomson chairs the holding company and is Canada’s richest person, with a wealth upwards of $40 billion. Overall, there is scant evidence that this ownership structure affects Reuters’ bias or standards.

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How to Mitigate Bias

News articles are bound to have 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 December 12, 2021 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.