The Guardian was founded in 1821 in response to the Peterloo Massacre—a peaceful protest for suffrage rights that tragically escalated into violence. It is a self-owned company and by constitution vows to remain true to its origins, independent of any outside corporate or political influence. For years, the publication has been the primary news source in support of the liberal interest in the United Kingdom, generally offering mainstream left-wing opinions. However, The Guardian admits it has not always been on the right side of history. So, just how reliable is The Guardian?

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 The Guardian?

The Guardian scored an average Factual Grade of 64.4%, placing it in the 57th percentile of our dataset. These moderate scores are attributable to The Guardian’s minimal sensationalism and consistently neutral tone — qualities uncommon to its tabloid format. The newspaper has dedicated journalists to cover specific issue areas, leading to high author expertise scores. However, The Guardian’s inherent and intentional left-wing bias in coverage and sourcing, as well as its large proportion of inflammatory opinion editorials, seem to contribute to the moderate overall scores.

Like any news source, scores for articles from The Guardian varied widely based on factors like author expertise and cited evidence. For example, some scored above 80%, while others scored below 50%.

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How Opinionated Is The Guardian?

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 Guardian had an average Writing Tone score of 0.56, placing it in the 39th percentile in our dataset. This suggests that articles from The Guardian are moderately opinionated on average. This is due to the newspaper’s opinion and tabloid-style articles that utilize biased wording in article content and headlines. This can be seen through article headlines such as “Rise of the parking app makes the rich richer as motorists struggle” and “At last, the Tories prove that Brexit has polluted the UK.”  

What Is The Guardian’s Political Bias? 

The Factual classifies news sites by political bias as either Left, 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 Guardian a Moderate Left bias.

MBFC assigns The Guardian a “Left-Center” bias. They note the newspaper’s liberal constitution and that it tends to favor left-leaning, yet factually credible positions in its publication. Its opinion pieces frequently feature emotionally loaded wording, with recent examples such as “Trump back-pedals on Russian meddling remarks after an outcry” and “Why are Guatemalans seeking asylum? US policy is to blame.”

MBFC assigns the newspaper a “Mixed” score for factual reporting, due to a number of failed fact-checks over the years. However, they note this is related to the volume of articles published by The Guardian rather than inherently faulty journalism.

AllSides assigns The Guardian a “Lean-Left” bias, citing a sitewide blind bias survey, as well as the newspaper’s own confession. In an AllSides poll, the majority of participants, hailing from across the political spectrum, assigned The Guardian a Lean-Left bias. However, AllSides admits to only having “medium” confidence in their alignment assessment, due to a limited amount of investigation.

Who Owns The Guardian? 

The Guardian Media Group owns The Guardian and its two sister companies, The Guardian Weekly and The Observer. The group’s only shareholder is the Scott Trust Limited, a board of trustees in charge of selecting the editor for the newspaper, appointed to ensure that that The Guardian remains free from party affiliations, and stays true to its “liberal” origins as a “profit-seeking enterprise managed in an efficient and cost-effective manner.” This board is barred from profiting off of dividends as a means of ensuring that no individual personally benefits from the conditions of the trust. Alex Graham is currently the chairman of this board of trustees. The magazine itself does not charge for a subscription, pulling in most of its revenue from advertisements and donations.

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Why Does It Matter?

News is 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 September 20, 2022 to reflect new data.

Published by Gal Barak

Gal is a writer and researcher. He graduated from the University of Denver with a B.A. in Philosophy and a minor in English. Before the Factual, Gal has interned as a journalist and taken on various roles at different non-profits.