The Western Journal is an American conservative news page based out of Phoenix. The company prides itself on being “a news company that bridges positive cultural change by equipping readers with the truth.”
With this benign consideration, the publications and statements made by The Western Journal are not always true. At Biasly, we look to evaluate the accuracy and credibility of all media outlets– this article will investigate several of the news source’s articles to determine whether or not it is as truthful as it claims to be.
Does Reliability Matter?
Reliability, in general, refers to how trustworthy or accurate information, or in this case, a news source is. If we consider this definition, it quickly becomes clear why reliability is important in media sources. If we can’t trust the things we read then there isn’t much of a point in continuing to consume content from that source, after all. So how exactly can we gauge the reliability of a news source anyway?
There are several potential measures of reliability to look out for when trying to determine whether a media source is reliable or not. Red flags for an unreliable article can include the presence of wild unsubstantiated claims, facts dependent on other unreliable sources, heavy use of opinionated language, and more. Some indicators of a reliable news source, on the other hand, include things like:
- Absence of subjective/opinionated language in articles
- Credible sources cited (e.g., neutral sources, .gov, .edu websites)
- Facts and statistics backed by multiple relevant outside sources
- Use of primary sources when possible (e.g., interviews, quotes)
- Information that remains consistent across news sources
So How Does the Western Journal in its Reliability?
The political bias index developed by Biasly assesses the credibility of news organizations. Biasly’s rating for The Western Journal has an Analyst rating of 63% reliability on our meter, which suggests readers can trust most of The Western Journal’s content online, and a Computer reliability rating is 73% rating, which indicates a Grade B rating. Since this is average, certain articles can be more or less trustworthy than others. These findings are in line with those of other third-party raters showing somewhat factual as they question some of The Western Journal’s content.
The following sections will analyze the supporting data and scores in addition to looking out for signs of a trustworthy news source.
The Western Journal Accuracy and Reliability
The credibility of news organizations is significantly impacted by the bias and political orientation of a source. Like the majority of other news sources, The Western Journal has been found to strongly favor topics and positions regarding their political orientation, as well as several failed fact checks noted by third-party research. This article will evaluate the reliability of The Western Journal’s news stories and determine how well they support their claims with evidence. Moreover, we will check for selection and omission bias in assessing The Western Journal’s credibility.
Selection bias is when stories and facts are selected or deselected, often on ideological grounds, to create a narrative in support of the new sources’ ideology. Omission bias, on the other hand, is when different opinions and political views regarding a situation are left out so that the reader is only exposed to the ideological perspective supported by the author. It’s important to keep in mind these two types of biases when trying to assess an article’s level of accuracy.
Biasly assigns a percentage score to accuracy, with one being the least accurate and 100 the most accurate. Ratings are formulated by weighing claims with supporting evidence, the amount of reliable internal sources and the usage of external sources as well. A full page of dependability and accuracy ratings for new Western Journal articles can be found here.
As previously stated, analysts have assessed and rated The Western Journal to be 63% reliable. This score varies from article to article, yet most extreme variations in the scores are caused by bias, specifically omission and selection bias.
Consider also, BuzzFeed, which has a very liberal bias and is considered 84% reliable according to Biasly. For example, they had one article rated 100% reliable titled “Four People – Including a 9-Year-Old Boy – Were Killed In A Mass Shooting In California” and another which was, nearly rated 20% less reliable at 79% titled “A House Select Committee Will Officially Investigate The Jan. 6 Insurrection.” This comparison just shows that regardless of the source and their political orientation, stories displaying political leaning are less reliable than neutral ones.
This article from The Western Journal titled “The Spending Never Stops: Senate Proposes $30 Billion on Gyms” is rated at 20% Conservative but is relatively conservative. Concerning the selection and omission, the author Erin Coates does a good job consulting a variation of sources despite portraying a somewhat conservative stance, due to portraying the Biden administration’s budget plans in a negative light. Coates also consults former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who represents the Democtraic Party, indicating that the author does a nice job balancing and selecting sources from both sides of the political spectrum.
Analysis of Reliability in the Western Journal Pieces
Opinion-style journalism allows reporters to express their personal opinions, although opinions are something that news sources should try to avoid when writing a general news article, this is not always the case. In turn, opinion pieces are less reliable and trustworthy because they are subjective, but are still informative in the sense that you can read someone’s point of view that you may or may not agree with.
The Western Journal is self-proclaimed to have a conservative political leaning, therefore their content. They also state on their About Us page that they uphold Christian values, which also influence the writing and opinions of authors.
Quality of Sources and Facts Used
The Western Journal does use reliable sources and consults the other side of the political spectrum in their articles– but this is not always the case. For instance, this article titled “Biden Issues Alarming Demand to Americans: ‘Get Vaccinated or Wear a Mask Until You Do” is an example with heavy opinions in place and a lot of conservative diction. This article by C. Douglas Gloden features six quotes, two of which are medium-long and the remaining four are short, and references five sources, which are listed as follows:
- Another The Western Journal article
- WW2 Propaganda Posters from history.com and Flickr
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- NBC News
- Pew Research Center
The Western Journal uses a poll from the Pew Research Center, which blogs from Biasly also reference very frequently. The referenced graph can be viewed below:
Overall, the quality of sources seems to be legitimate, with specific and updated guidelines provided by CDC. The article is accurate to the event overall but leans conservative (although it is intended to). As a result, the article has average-quality sources but lacks a holistic approach and facts to the article.
Author C. Douglas Golden does a good job consulting sources from both sides of the spectrum, such as NBC News, which Biasly rates as “Moderately Liberal.” Yet, by concluding his article by stating,
“No one needs Joe Biden’s permission to do anything, least of all conduct their lives as they see fit with or without the vaccine.”
Once again, this points to a right-leaning article that doesn’t trust the Biden administration.
The Western Journal also has had several failed fact checks and misinformation on its page. For example, a headline reading “Pelosi Sinks to New Low, Tells Dems: If You Have to Lie to Voters to Win, Do It” which has since been updated on The Western Journal’s page to an opinion article, apologizing for confusion for a story that was “intended to be a commentary piece but instead “sounded like a dishonest straight news piece.”
Selection and Omission Bias
Another example of a The Western Journal article titled “Bidenomics in Action: US Household Incomes Trouble for the Third Straight Year” selects facts to frame Biden’s economy negatively. For example, the article explains how 65% of women are working full-time jobs in 2022, which is the highest rate ever recorded. While a woman like myself would think that this is a great thing in terms of progress for women’s rights being able to join the workforce and eliminating gender stereotypes, the article spins this fact to the following:
“This would tend to show that Biden’s economy is so bad, more women are being forced into full-time work for families to make ends meet.”
Similarly, throughout the article, emotionally loaded language against liberals is used, with phrases such as “disastrous,” “have made all of us poorer,” and “stymied economic growth.”
Further, The Western Journal uses fellow heavy-right-leaning news source Fox News, to quote:
“Inflation also rose 7.8 percent, the highest annual rise since 1981, Fox News reported.”
The article continues to further elaborate on the economics using only Fox News and their Business Network, which displays selection bias as only source material from their side of the political spectrum is used, painting the left side to look weak and unsuccessful.
In opinion pieces, issues with factuality, sources, and selection and omission bias are often present. The articles we’ve covered so far are mostly biased and exclude either an opposite viewpoint or fail to provide a holistic approach to the issue at hand. As a self-proclaimed right-leaning news organization, The Western Journal does have the incentive to continue appealing to its conservative audience. Yet, now that we’ve discussed several indications of reliability in the news, you should keep these things in mind while approaching any news source.
So Is the Western Journal Reliable?
In conclusion, it can be argued that The Western Journal is semi-reliable as a news source. The more you research media credibility and reliability, the easier it will be to find issues with sources and spot selection and omission biases. You can use Biasly’s News Bias Checker a resource to help uncover these issues and determine the most accurate news.