In 2014, Ezra Klein, today a columnist for the New York Times and formerly an editor for the Washington Post, created Vox as a place for “explanatory journalism.” The site produces a wide range of journalism but is subject to accusations of considerable liberal bias. This leads us to ask two important questions: how factual is Vox and how biased is it?

What Is The Factual and How Does It Score Articles?
The Factual identifies the most informative and least opinionated articles from thousands of sources across the political spectrum. It does this by using a consistent and transparent rating algorithm to evaluate articles based on their sources, writing tone, author expertise, and publishing site, ultimately producing a grade between 0 and 100 for each article. The Factual uses this data to explore trends across the media ecosystem as well as to inform our daily newsletter. To learn more about how we score articles, visit our How It Works page.

How Factual Is Vox?

Over a dataset of 1,000 articles, Vox scored an average Factual Grade of 73.8%. This is well above the average of 61.9% for all 240 news sources that we analyzed. This places the site in the 95th percentile of our dataset.

These high scores are partially explained by Vox’s explanatory approach to journalism, which involves the inclusion of extensive supporting evidence. Moreover, Vox has beat reporters who regularly recover the same topics, leading to high author expertise scores. 

Like any news source, scores for articles from Vox 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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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.

Vox had an average Writing Tone score of 0.43, placing it in the 26th percentile in our dataset. This suggests that despite the high overall scores for articles from Vox, many articles are written in an opinionated tone. The average score for all 240 news sites was 0.56.

How Biased Is Vox?

Together, assessments from media bias organizations indicate that Vox has a “Left” bias. 

AllSides gives Vox a “Left” bias, based on the most recent editorial review and over 44,508 community ratings. Vox was classified as “Lean Left” prior to February 2018. Vox “writes favorably about Left-leaning policies and never includes a Right-leaning perspective,” according to AllSides’ editorial team. The editors note that such a one-sided approach “prevents readers from getting a holistic understanding” of major issues. Moreover, this approach leads articles to blur the lines between news and opinion. 

Media Bias/Fact Check (MBFC) corroborates this classification, rating Vox as having a “Left” bias. This is due to “wording and story selection that routinely favors the left,” according to MBFC. Vox gets credit for “Mostly Factual” reporting, due to two failed fact-checks in the past, both related to Trump policies. Overall, however, Vox gets credit for using high-quality sources.

Vox’s left-leaning bias is plainly clear to most observers, as the site advocates progressive perspectives and produced numerous articles that were firmly anti-Trump. The site also at times uses titles with emotionally loaded language, such as “Photos of Trump’s reckless activities, ranked by their Covid-19 risk” and “The frightening implications of a federal court’s latest immigration opinion.” In the past, Vox has taken action to address extreme instances, such as when it suspended an editor in 2016 over tweets encouraging anti-Trump riots.

Who Owns Vox?

Vox is owned by Vox Media, a company established in 2011 to encompass SB Nation and The Verge. Today, the company owns other publications such as Eater, Polygon, and New York Magazine. The right-leaning project Influence Watch has pointed out that much of Vox Media’s leadership has held positions in Democratic administrations and campaigns, which helps explain the outlet’s left-leaning orientation. 

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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.

Article 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.