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Is Axios Reliable?

By · Jun 4, 2024 · 9 min read

Is Axios Reliable?

According to Biasly, Axios is rated as Somewhat Liberal news source that is seen as good when it comes to overall reliability. Axios has become a more common name in news which makes it important to analyze its reliability.

Bar chart displaying trust in information sources among U.S. adults: Local news (82% net trust), national news (76%), family/friends (77%), and social media (34%). Majority have some confidence in local/national news and family/friends.

Source: Pew Research

As seen by the work done at Pew Research, national news organizations such as Axios see 59% of American adults saying that they have some confidence in trusting the information they receive from these organizations. Trust in news sources comes from knowing if a source is reliable. Reliability stems from factors such as accuracy and selection/omission. In this article, we will examine how these factors are present in Axios’ articles and determine how reliable they are.

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 anyways?

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 Axios Fare in its Reliability?

The political reliability index developed by Biasly objectively assesses news organizations’ accuracy and trustworthiness. Axios’ overall reliability has been rated as “Good” by Biasly. Biasly’s overall reliability score is derived from the source analysis score and fact analysis score. The Fact Analysis score is weighted more heavily when calculating the overall reliability score.

Axios’ Fact Analysis Score is ‘Good,’ which suggests readers can trust most of Axio’s content online. The Fact Analysis score focuses more on the accuracy of claims, facts, and sources presented in the article and any hints of selection and omission bias, which we will discuss further in the article.

Axios’ Source Analysis Score is ‘Fair,’ which suggests readers can trust some of the sources, links, and quotes provided by the news source. This score, which is based on A.I., focuses on assessing the quality of sources and quotes used including their number, lengths, uniqueness, and diversity.

These scores do not tell the whole picture about Axios’ reliability. Due to this, it is important to analyze examples of Axios’ work to determine their reliability.

Axios Accuracy and Reliability

News companies are under constant observation regarding possible pitfalls when it comes to their accuracy and reliability. In a society where misinformation is prevalent, it is important to ensure that the news is accurate and reliable. To better understand the extent of these two factors in relation to Axios’ work, we will focus on accuracy and selection/omission ratings.

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 being the most. Ratings are calculated by weighing assertions with supporting evidence, the number of reliable internal sources, and the number of reliable external sources employed. News sources can vary by article when it comes to their accuracy. A contrast to Axios would be The Gazette. It is rated by Biasly as Somewhat Conservative and carries a good overall reliability score. One of their articles, “Iowa Sen. Dan Zumbach called DNR director over Supreme Beef feedlot owned by his son-in-law” had neutral scores for selection and accuracy. In general, Biasly analysts found that The Gazette never had accuracy or omission ratings that strayed from the neutral position.

An Axios article we can examine is “Two people killed in Virginia Beach shooting incidents”, which received a Somewhat Liberal rating. Oriana Gonzalex does a good job summarizing the situation and its immediate impact. However, much of the facts are vague. For example, when talking about the shootings, she writes,

“The third shooting was unrelated to the others and resulted in a second person killed”

It would have been helpful for the readers to have better context on how the first two shootings were related. Leaving this information out or not explaining why it was not provided may change the reader’s perception of policing or the state of Virginia Beach as a city.

The author’s sources are not diverse. Information in the article came from the police through press conferences and press releases. Adding eyewitness accounts would have made the story well-rounded and inclusive of different views aside from the investigation.

The lack of explanation about a police intervention shooting could support views on police being too violent. It may be an unintended consequence but the omission of an explanation of the situation does not make the article thorough in terms of the topic.

Although the sources are from a limited perspective and due to selection and omission bias, it leaves room for interpretation, the article can still be considered as mostly reliable because its information comes from those investigating the crime and is not written in an opinion format.

Analysis of Reliability in Axios Opinion Pieces

Opinion pieces are a way for journalists and individuals to express their beliefs on current or emerging issues. These articles are not as trustworthy because they are based on opinion more than fact, it can be useful to understand how people see issues in various ways.

Axios has opinion pieces from different viewpoints. For example, Axios had a veteran who identified as Republican write about his understanding when it came to national anthem protests in the name of racial injustice. Although it favored Axios’ overall rating as a Somewhat Liberal source, the piece was based on the beliefs and observations of the author while excluding personal political ideology. Opinion pieces such as these are meant to educate readers on different perspectives. However, opinion pieces do intertwine with politics and can be questionable sources for reliable information.

Quality of Sources and Facts Used

Articles can increase their reliability based on the quality of sources and facts that are used. Additionally, analyzing the number of quotes and the length also influences an article’s perceived reliability. Let us examine this article: “The slippery slope of protest surveillance” which focuses on how protestors were watched after the death of George Floyd. The article had three quotes from individual’s Twitter accounts and embedded links to statements from a legal expert, the Department of Justice, and the ACLU.

  • President Donald Trump (Member of the Republican Party)
  • Representative Matt Gaetz (Member of the Republican Party)
  • Statement from Attorney General William Barr (Appointed by Trump)
  • American Civil Liberties Union (Initiatives lean left)
  • An article by Lori Robertson from with quotes from:
  • Mary McCord, director of Georgetown University Law Center’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection
  • Hina Shamsi, former Department of Justice official and ACLU national security project director

There are a considerable amount of sources. Some sources consist of perspectives that are different from Axios’ Somewhat Liberal bias. Two sources in the article came from those who are politically biased as they are politicians who are members of the Republican Party. Furthermore, the information is picked to show the right-leaning opinion about survelling protestors. One quote came from Representative Matt Gaetz who is a member of the Republican Party. Matt Gaetz has been labeled as one of the more Right Leaning members of the Republican caucus in the House. The author uses a tweet by Matt Gaetz to suggest the general stance of Republicans on the issue of protesters:

“suggested acting along those lines in a tweet this week seeking to explain his call for antifa adherents to be “hunt[ed] down.”

Including a quote that carries extreme language can interfere with accurately portraying the beliefs of one side. Rather than providing statements from reputable officials, the author turns to online posts by political figures who are biased rather than neutral. Using a quote with extreme language such as “hunted” portrays the Right Leaning stance in a harsher light. It serves as a way to help make the reader feel that one political stance is fully against protestors while the other is protecting their right to protest.

On the other hand, the statement included by William Barr is a good example of providing more objective information. Although Barr holds a position he was appointed to by Republican President Donald Trump, his job is to prosecute individuals who have committed federal crimes and sustain the safety of Americans. His statement covered actions the FBI would take rather than an opinion that used extreme language. Barr states a plan on how the Department of Justice would resolve the issue:

“To identify criminal organizers and instigators, and to coordinate federal resources with our state and local partners, federal law enforcement is using our existing network of 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces”

There are two other factors that are used to assess reliability. The length of a quote and the amount of quotes used in an article can influence reliability. The quotes were short and the article should have added more. Adding quotes from the statement by the Attorney General would add more credibility to the article. It allows readers to see the other side’s perspective through their own interpretation rather than relying on the author for analysis.

Paraphrasing and only stating that experts said certain things makes the writing vague. Excluding the direct quotes and using opinionated quotes as facts about one side shows that the article commits to the left-leaning stance of Axios. These opinionated quotes show conservative people and policies in a negative light. As previously shown, the quote used from Matt Gaetz contains extreme language. This language can lead readers to infer that all conservatives hold stances similar to Gaetz.  It does not tell the full story about protest surveillance in the United States.

The issues with this article and its sources show the importance of where the author gets their information. Using quotes from political figures such as Matt Gaetz, who are stating their opinion and then using them to portray a broader stance is not an accurate way of reporting information. The way the article was written shows that it was meant to serve as a piece that evokes the emotion of left-leaning readers who may possibly protest or further their opposition to right-leaning figures and ideas. The constant mentions of how those in government are attempting to crack down on protestors is meant to show readers that their rights are in danger. Mentioning the beliefs of those in Congress and the increasing capability of police are presented as threats to protestors.

Selection and Omission Bias

In another Axios opinion article, “The policies that could help fix policing”, authors Stef Knight and Sam Baker lay out possible solutions that would fix policing after the death of George Floyd. Four quotes are from a former police chief, a policy analyst, and the NAACP president. The quotes are opinionated but are from someone with significant experience with police and their practices.

“We have to change this viewpoint that people have of: ‘Well, there’s a few bad apples, we just have to get rid of them and everything will be fine.’ If that was the case, we would already be where we need to be,”

This quote from former Albany police chief Brendan Cox establishes the stance the authors are taking. The authors will support ideas of broad police reform and demonstrate that in the ideas they write about in the article. Rather than focusing on the practices of local police departments, they support nationwide reforms on policing.

Language is used to portray that there is no accountability on police such as the quote:

“Police who cross the line rarely face a criminal prosecution”

This quote assumes that police lack accountability through criminal or civil prosecution.

Cases where police departments or those who work with police being held accountable are neglected by the author. Additionally, the article says that police have a broad authority to use force. However, there is no definition regarding their broad authority and why it is a problem. The absence of this information makes it harder to understand why policing has become a major issue.

The author states the Governors of Wisconsin and New Jersey, President Obama, and Vice President Biden are among those who support these solutions. It is important to note that these individuals are members of the Democrat Party. However, the author does not mention possible plans introduced by Republicans to address policing issues.

Excluding the actions of Republicans and opinions associated with right-leaning politics makes this article less reliable. Not including the viewpoints of the other major American party caters the article to left-leaning audiences. It can create a perception that only Democrats and left-leaning figures are taking action against unjust policing practices.

Opinion articles have difficulty maintaining reliability because of issues with sources and omission of details or viewpoints.

The articles that have been analyzed show that there are gaps in accurate reporting in opinion pieces. Oftentimes, they are used to show an author’s belief rather than illustrate the full story by including all sides. Axios being a left-leaning news company has an incentive to publish such articles to sustain readers and attract new ones.

Article Sources and FactsSelection and Omission
Two people killed in Virginia Beach shooting incidents  Accurate sources (police)

Lacks a diverse array of sources such as eyewitness accounts

Vague information that excludes why the shootings happened and general context about the incidents
The slippery slope of protest surveillanceSources came from biased individuals (politicians).

Some facts came from government officials who stated possible actions to take rather than their personal beliefs

Very short quotes

Lack of information from those on the other side

Could have added more quotes that are longer and from more neutral sources to give a more overall story

The policies that could help fix policingA former police chief is a good viewpoint

Again, adding politicians to the article tilts it in favor of left-leaning ideas

No representation of right-leaning thought

Does not mention possible Republican action while writing about what Democrats have done

So Is Axios Reliable?

Axios can be considered a mostly reliable news source because it has shown it can be neutral when it comes to news reporting. However, their opinion pieces do pose issues of reliability because of source and omission problems. The lack of transparency from Axios about whether an article is an opinion piece or not makes it harder for the reader to realize if the information is reliable. Because of this, using Biasly’s News Bias Checker will assist you with ensuring that the news articles you read are reliable and provide you with correct information.


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