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?
How Factual Is Vox?
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.
Vox scored an average Factual Grade of 72.4% across 8,023 articles. This is well above the 62.0% average for all articles in the dataset, placing it in the 94th percentile. 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.
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 Vox 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 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.
How to Mitigate Bias
Vox offers a prime example of a news site that produces factual, well-researched articles but that may also be subject to considerable bias. That said, all news articles have some bias because all authors have some frame of reference within which they describe a story. Bias ratings help us understand this framing. However, it is also 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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