With less than two weeks left before the election, Americans are inundated with thousands of news articles that have every conceivable angle on this election season. Which stories are worth reading with our limited time?
Last week, we identified ten news outlets that top our list of most credible sources for election news. Another way to find the best stories is to identify specific reporters who consistently write the most credible articles on politics and the upcoming elections. There are many such reporters from across the political spectrum who consistently produce deeply-researched and minimally-opinionated writing. In this post, The Factual highlights the ten highest-rated authors based on our unique and transparent rating system.
The Factual rates the credibility of 10,000+ news articles everyday to identify the very best, most credible articles in the U.S. news ecosystem. This article rating — The Factual’s credibility grade — is based on four metrics which help speak to the approach of the author: (1) the number of direct quotes and external sources used; (2) the author’s publication history (based on how well other articles by the same author have scored); (3) the writing tone (whether an article is written in a neutral or opinionated tone); and (4) the publisher history (whether the author writes for a news outlet that routinely produces credible journalism).
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Combined, The Factual’s four metrics give us the ability to compare different publishers and authors. For this study, we analyzed articles from over 500 news sources from July through September and emerged with a dataset of over 13,000 articles that specifically reference voting issues; the presidential candidates; polls; and local, state, and national elections in the U.S. To be considered for this list, authors must have published three articles over the 92-day time period (July 1-September 30) for a single news site, which works out to publishing once per month on average. Additionally, this ranking only takes into consideration articles with a single author and does not combine article counts/scores from different outlets.
In the cacophonous news cycle, and what is likely to be a tense post-election atmosphere filled with competing narratives, it can be useful to know trusted voices in the media who have a demonstrated track record of quality, credible reporting.
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Our ranking of the best authors for election-focused news is based only on the clear, measurable, and comparable metrics mentioned above and do not take into account the personal characteristics of the authors. The results reveal the best of a rich and diverse news ecosystem that can help readers expand their news horizons. It features a mix of authors on left, right, and center who write for a range of news sources, from national, mainstream media, to regional, more localized outlets, to specialty news sites with a specific focus such as on the environment. Here’s our top ten, who you can also follow via this Twitter list.
Angelo Fichera – FactCheck.org
Average grade: 95.8% | Number of articles: 4
It should come as no surprise that fact-checking articles score highly — they use numerous sources to neutrally and comprehensively lay out the facts. FactCheck.org typically takes top spots in our rankings, and Angelo Fichera carries on this trend with incisive coverage of controversial topics and misinformation, such as the baseless claims that Biden was wearing an earpiece at the first presidential debate. Fichera leverages experience as a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and other publications to help readers separate fact from fiction.
Best article: Vice Presidential Vacancy Isn’t Automatically Filled by House Speaker (98%)
Rem Reider – FactCheck.org
Average grade: 88.7% | Number of articles: 3
In a first, FactCheck.org took both top spots in our ranking. The second author, Rem Reider, is an experienced former columnist for USA Today and former editor for the American Journalism Review. Reider has used this expertise to dive headlong into voting issues around the election, namely dispelling claims against mail-in voting.
Best article: Trump’s False Claim About Mail Ballot Signatures in Nevada (91%)
C.J. Ciaramella – Reason
Average grade: 85.5% | Number of articles: 5
Ciaramella writes on criminal justice issues for Reason — an online magazine that espouses “free markets and free minds” — and has written for a range of publications on both sides of the political spectrum, including BuzzFeed, the Washington Post, The Federalist, and the Daily Beast. This election cycle, his work has focused largely on felon voting rights and the political battle over restoring the right to vote for felons who have served their sentences.
Best article: Supreme Court Won’t Lift Freeze In Florida Felon Voting Rights Case (89%)
Katie Kindelan – ABC News
Average grade: 85.0% | Number of articles: 3
Kindelan is a Digital Producer with ABC News, which appears among our list of top outlets for election news, and covers a range of topics, from how Covid-19 is affecting individuals, including through mental health issues, to how people are working to get their voices heard this election.
Best article: Why this women’s health group is mobilizing Black women to walk to the polls (90%)
Becky Jacobs – Salt Lake Tribune
Average grade: 84.5% | Number of articles: 4
While The Factual primarily analyzes the most popular national publications, it also measures many less widely distributed news sources to help locate the very best news. Jacobs is a Report for America corps member, a national service program which places journalists in “local newsrooms across the country to report on under-covered issues.” At the Salt Lake Tribune, Jacobs focuses on “women’s issues and the status of women in Utah.”
Arit John – LA Times
Average grade: 84.2% | Number of articles: 5
Who better to turn to for election news than reporters who have experience in covering politics? John joined the LA Times in 2020, presumably to help cover this election cycle, and brings experience working as a political reporter for Bloomberg, as well as work experience with The Atlantic and the New York Times. From this basis, she has written high-scoring articles on a range of election topics, including mail-in voting, the political struggle over the Supreme Court, and the first presidential debate.
Best article: GOP senators’ words on election-year SCOTUS picks, then and now (88%)
Nadja Sayej – The Guardian
Average grade: 83.3% | Number of articles: 3
Nadja Sayej works as a culture reporter for numerous world-renowned publications, including The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Economist. In our sample, her work focuses on what artists in particular are doing this election season to encourage people to vote or to affect the political conversation.
Best article: 100 years, 100 women: female artists celebrate the right to vote (85%)
Jerry Dunleavy – Washington Examiner
Average grade: 83.1% | Number of articles: 21
Dunleavy stands out on our list for a very high publication frequency, which makes maintaining a high average credibility all the more impressive. As a reporter who specifically focuses on the Department of Justice, he has had a particularly busy schedule covering the potential threat of election interference from Russia, China, and Iran.
Matthew S. Schwartz – NPR
Average grade: 83.0% | Number of articles: 4
With a background in radio journalism, Schwartz works for NPR’s news desk covering a range of topics. This election, for example, he has covered international reactions to the first presidential debate, Trump’s moratorium on exploratory drilling in the Atlantic, and the state of the U.S. Postal Service in the run up to this election.
Best article: NASA Astronaut Will Vote From Space (86%)
Shannon Osaka – Grist
Average grade: 82.0% | Number of articles: 3
Grist also regularly appears on our lists of most credible news outlets — for both Covid-19 and election news — so it should be no surprise that one of their authors makes this list as well. Shannon Osaka is an environmental journalist with experience working for outlets like Wired, Rolling Stone, and Slate. Though not yet the top issue for the electorate as a whole, recent events such as this year’s devastating wildfires on the West Coast have helped increase the importance of environmental issues and climate change, and Osaka’s coverage has helped put discussion of those events on the national stage into perspective.
Best article: We fact-checked Trump’s climate responses from the first presidential debate (86%)