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 analyzed 785,000 news articles from 32 major news sources between January 1, 2020 and May 18, 2021. To be included, a news source must have published at least 5,000 articles over the time period, or at least 10 articles per day.

Reuters scored an average Factual Grade of 62.9% across 47,199 articles. This is just above the 62.0% average for all articles in the dataset, placing it in the 38th percentile. Given the news agency’s high reputation, this score may seem surprising. However, many of their articles do not have assigned authors or lack links to supporting evidence. This can lower an article’s overall Factual Grade, as these are two of our four key metrics.

Article scores, as rated by The Factual’s algorithm, show how author expertise, writing tone, and provided evidence can vary for each article. For instance, some articles from Reuters scored 90% or more, while others scored below 50%. 

A high grade means an article is informative, relatively objective, and written by a topical expert. A low grade means many of these factors were not present or could not be verified. Articles with lower scores may still have merit, but readers should know to treat them with greater scrutiny. To learn more, visit our How It Works page.

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.

How to Mitigate Bias

Reuters stands out in today’s media for being largely unbiased. That said, all news articles have some bias because all authors have some frame of reference within which they describe a story. Bias ratings are useful in understanding this framing. However, it can be more useful to know how factual an article is based on the cited evidence and whether the tone of writing is objective or opinionated. This is what The Factual Grade helps measure. Reading several highly rated articles across the political spectrum, including from highly objective sources, helps counter the bias of any news source or story.

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Published by Phillip Meylan

Phillip is a writer, researcher, and editor. He is a contributor to FP Analytics, Foreign Policy's research and advisory division, and an adjuct fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. During Covid-19, he has spent time enjoying the great outdoors, reading, and watching soccer.