When you hear left-leaning news, you may think CNN, The New York Times, or The Washington Post. While these large media sources produce a large volume of stories, are they actually the most credible left-leaning sources?
In an increasingly saturated and liberal-leaning news space, readers are faced with the challenge of cutting through the noise and simultaneously forming their own opinions. With over 320 left-leaning news outlets, parsing through that amount of information seems a nearly impossible task.
To make the search for credible news easier, we used our algorithm to find the highest-ranking liberal news sites, to follow up from our previous analysis of the highest-ranking conservative news sites.
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The Factual’s algorithm analyzes individual articles based on the author’s topical expertise, the diversity of sources via links and quotes, the neutrality of the writing tone, and the historical reputation of the publishing site. Combined, this gives us a Factual Grade from 0 to 100. The average Factual Grade rating of a news source accounts for all of the articles produced during that time period. Articles rated over 75% are highly likely to be credible. To learn more, see How It Works.
We analyzed 58,000 articles published between May 1 and May 21 and curated the top 10 left-leaning sources that have posted at least twenty times within that period. To find a list of all left-leaning sources we analyzed and their ratings, see appendix.
Here is the breakdown of the top 10 publications based on their average Factual Grade:
|Ranking||Publication||# of Articles||Average Factual Grade|
|10||Salt Lake Tribune||24||72.7|
Lawfare Blog • Average Factual Grade: 77.70% • 60 articles published
Published by the Lawfare Institute in cooperation with the Brookings Institution, Lawfare is a blog and podcast dedicated to national security issues and received attention for its reporting on Donald Trump’s presidency.
Top Article: “State Emergency Authorities to Address COVID-19” by Benjamin Della Rocca, Samantha Fry, Masha Simonova, and Jacques Singer-Emery (Grade 91%)
FiveThirtyEight • Average Factual Grade: 76.44% • 66 articles published
Perhaps most known for opinion poll analysis, FiveThirtyEight, sometimes rendered as 538, also covers economics and sports blogging. Founded by analyst Nate Silver, who famously predicted Obama’s 2008 win, FiveThirtyEight is now a subsidiary of ABC News.
Top Article: “Will The Supreme Court Finally Force Trump’s Tax Returns To Be Released?” by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux (Grade 88%)
The Intercept • Average Factual Grade: 76.03% • 91 articles published
The Intercept is a publication of First Look Media sporting the tag “Fearless, adversarial journalism that holds the powerful accountable.” The Intercept is known for publishing leaked documents by Edward Snowden, and for investigative journalism around national security issues.
Top Article: “The Devolution of the GOP, From Eisenhower to Donald Trump” by Zaid Jilani (Grade 88%)
The Ringer • Average Factual Grade: 74.93% • 30 articles published
Founded in 2016, this latecomer owned by Spotify has climbed up the leaderboard with sports and pop culture coverage. Its flagship podcast, The Bill Simmons Podcast, interviews famous athletes and celebrities.
Top Article: “The Testing Plans at the Center of the NBA’s Relaunch Efforts” by Kevin O’Connor (Grade 84%)
City Lab • Average Factual Grade: 74.40% • 20 articles published
CityLab is part of Bloomberg’s American Cities Initiative to analyze the development of various neighborhoods. Their goal is to create “scalable solutions to major challenges faced by cities everywhere.”
Top Article: “In Lockdown, Seniors Are Becoming More Tech Savvy” by Linda Poon (Grade 83%)
Propublica • Average Factual Grade: 74.11% • 65 articles published
ProPublica is a nonprofit based in New York City centered around investigative journalism they believe will rouse the public’s interest. Their goal is to “dig deep into important issues, shining a light on abuses of power and betrayals of public trust — and we stick with those issues as long as it takes to hold power to account.”
Top Article: “These Workers Packed Lip Gloss and Pandora Charm” by Wendi C. Thomas (Grade 83%)
Quartz • Average Factual Grade: 73.65% • 31 articles published
Abbreviated QZ, Quartz is a self-purported guide to the new global economy that covers all things business. It is a digital-native outlet with branches around the globe.
Top Article: “Scientists want to see the evidence that shows remdesivir works for Covid-19” by Olivia Goldhill (Grade 84%)
Heavy • Average Factual Grade: 73.35% • 26 articles published
Through its flagship website, Heavy.com, and Spanish-language platform, AhoraMismo.com, readers benefit from rapid, unbiased reporting. Heavy specializes in “Five Fast Facts” posts about trending topics.
Top Article: “Browns DE Myles Garrett Petitions for Offensive Role” by J.R. De Groote (Grade 85%)
CNBC • Average Factual Grade: 72.67% • 1,421 articles published
Originally a televised business news channel, this division of NBC has expanded to publish countless articles daily. It provides real-time financial coverage to over 355 million people per month.
Top Article: “CDC contact tracing criteria opens door for Apple-Google approach” by Kif Leswing (Grade 87%)
Salt Lake Tribune • Average Factual Grade: 72.67% • 24 articles published
A daily non-profit newspaper published in the city of Salt Lake City, Utah, with the largest paid circulation in the state. For almost 100 years, it was a family-owned newspaper held by the heirs of U.S. Senator Thomas Kearns.
Top Article: “Utah is the second most biased state against nonreligious residents, survey says” by Peggy Fletcher Stack (Grade 85%)
What does this data mean? We were surprised to find that most of the big name left-leaning sources did not make the top 10. The New York Times scored 69%, CNN, the most popular left-leaning source, scored 54%, and BBC scored 66% — putting them below the niche outlets featured in this list. This begs the question of quantity versus quality when it comes to reporting, as smaller sites often feature expert analysis that takes longer to curate, resulting in less frequent articles. For example, on the topic of civil liberties, The Intercept scores consistently higher than The New York Times, and on matters concerning elections, FiveThirtyEight leads the discussion. In this way, our algorithm serves as a proxy for expertise, as niche sites often have an extensive history of writing on a topic with well-researched articles.
Across the aisle, popular right-leaning publications such as Fox News or the Wall Street Journal have an average Factual Grade of 57% and 66%, respectively, which would also put them below the top 10 here. Does this mean that left-leaning sites are more credible? Not necessarily. While Fox News and the Wall Street Journal may be the biggest names on the Right, we discovered that there are many niche right-leaning sources that are just as credible as the publications listed above, including Reason and Military Times.
This indicates that, regardless of political leaning, news sources dedicated to a certain topic rate more highly than high-volume, general news sources, as they tend to provide more well-researched context.
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At The Factual, we hope to use sound methodology and direct our readers to quality news across the political spectrum. This way, individuals can sift through the information and make better-informed decisions in light of the constantly changing world around us. We fundamentally believe that including a variety of perspectives is a key component to acknowledging and accounting for the implicit bias from both authors and readers. We hope this list of sources encourages our readers to consider diverse outlets in their search for the truth.
Lastly, we know that finding multiple credible perspectives on every topic, every day, can be exhausting. That’s why The Factual’s mission is to apply its algorithm to the 10,000+ articles published every day, cultivating the most credible stories on the hottest topics across the political spectrum in our daily newsletter.
Want to use The Factual’s data to research trends in journalism? Reach out about collaborations by contacting Arjun Moorthy (email@example.com).
Appendix: Left-leaning sources analyzed and their average Factual Grade scores.
Note: We removed sources with less than 20 articles published during this time period, since there was not enough data to make an accurate representation of their average score. Also, some outlets are behind a paywall which makes it difficult to access all their articles to analyze.
|Publisher||Bias||Number of Articles Published||
Average Factual Grade
|ABC News||Moderate Left||352||72%|
|Al Jazeera||Moderate Left||756||54%|
|Austin American-Statesman||Moderate Left||20||47%|
|Bloomberg News||Moderate Left||307||64%|
|Boston Globe||Moderate Left||60||59|
|Business Insider||Moderate Left||257||71%|
|Bustle Magazine||Moderate Left||55||62%|
|CBC News (Canadian Broadcasting)||Moderate Left||282||64%|
|CBS News||Moderate Left||1070||69%|
|Chicago Sun Times||Moderate Left||20||63%|
|City Lab||Moderate Left||20||74%|
|Deadline Hollywood||Moderate Left||52||69%|
|Deccan Herald||Moderate Left||163||36%|
|DW News||Moderate Left||29||59%|
|Fast Company Magazine||Moderate Left||117||65%|
|Global News||Moderate Left||23||70%|
|Hindustan Times||Moderate Left||113||62%|
|Hollywood Reporter||Moderate Left||70||61%|
|Houston Chronicle||Moderate Left||23||61%|
|Inside Higher Ed||Moderate Left||22||60%|
|LA Times||Moderate Left||906||69%|
|Lawfare Blog||Moderate Left||60||78%|
|Miami Herald||Moderate Left||82||68%|
|Minneapolis Star Tribune||Moderate Left||117||61%|
|Naked Capitalism||Moderate Left||72||71%|
|NBC News||Moderate Left||194||70%|
|New York Daily News||Moderate Left||36||45%|
|New York Magazine||Left||48||69%|
|New York Times||Moderate Left||2266||69%|
|PBS News Hour||Moderate Left||54||60%|
|Portland Press-Herald||Moderate Left||28||61%|
|Religion News Service (RNS)||Moderate Left||123||68%|
|Salt Lake Tribune||Moderate Left||24||73%|
|San Francisco Chronicle||Moderate Left||55||65%|
|San Jose Mercury News||Moderate Left||44||65%|
|Seattle Times||Moderate Left||145||68%|
|Sky News||Moderate Left||25||69%|
|St. Louis Post-Dispatch||Moderate Left||53||65%|
|Talking Points Memo||Left||29||69%|
|Tampa Bay Times||Moderate Left||57||60%|
|The Atlantic||Moderate Left||278||66%|
|The Cut||Moderate Left||185||62%|
|The Economic Times||Moderate Left||29||66%|
|The Guardian||Moderate Left||1891||66%|
|The Hill||Moderate Left||258||63%|
|The Independent||Moderate Left||311||64%|
|The Mary Sue||Left||42||52%|
|The Next Web||Moderate Left||79||62%|
|The Patriot-News||Moderate Left||32||65%|
|The Plain Dealer||Moderate Left||25||70%|
|The Ringer||Moderate Left||30||75%|
|The Verge||Moderate Left||116||70%|
|The Week||Moderate Left||21||67%|
|Time Magazine||Moderate Left||66||66%|
|Times of Israel||Moderate Left||20||67%|
|US News World Report||Moderate Left||21||61%|
|USA Today||Moderate Left||1200||59%|
|Vice News||Moderate Left||91||54%|
|Washington Post||Moderate Left||1765||68%|
|Wired Magazine||Moderate Left||276||69%|
|Yahoo News||Moderate Left||741||53%|