Link copied to clipboard!

Is Billy Penn Reliable?

By · May 26, 2024 · 8 min read

Is Billy Penn Reliable?

Billy Penn was founded in 2014 and is owned by its parent company WHYY, Inc. The news source has continued to deliver original political opinions, cultural and relevant news for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where it’s headquartered. Billy Penn can be found online at and has an average of 417.2k monthly visits.

Billy Penn has a decent reputation, especially among the local population, and Biasly’s A.I. rating gives it a score of 71% in reliability, meaning that the media outlet is fairly accurate in delivering news reports. But how did we reach that conclusion? At Biasly, we endeavor to evaluate the accuracy and dependability of all media outlets. Let us investigate the reliability and accuracy of Billy Penn.

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 Billy Penn Fare in its Reliability?

The political reliability index developed by Biasly objectively assesses news organizations’ accuracy and trustworthiness. Billy Penn’s overall Reliability Score has been rated as ‘Good’ by Biasly. This rating is a weighted average of two distinct scores: the Fact Analysis Score and the Source Analysis Score, each evaluating separate components of Billy Penn’s Reliability. When computing the Average Reliability of the article the Fact Analysis score is more heavily weighted. These ratings are as follows in the next two paragraphs:

Billy Penn’s Fact Analysis Score is ‘Good,’ which suggests readers can trust most of Buzzfeed’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.

Billy Penn’s Source Analysis Score is ‘Good,’ 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.

However, since these scores are based on percentages and averages, individual articles could be more or less trustworthy depending on the context, author, and other factors. Let us analyze the supporting data for Buzzfeed’s rankings and discuss what to watch out for while searching for trustworthy news sources.

Billy Penn Accuracy and Reliability

The credibility of news organizations is significantly impacted by bias and political orientation. Unlike numerous other media organizations, Billy Penn has hardly been accused of prioritizing partisan agenda above facts. We can evaluate the integrity of Billy Penn’s news stories and deduce how well the publication supports assertions with evidence, and see whether this is indeed the case. We will check for selection and omission bias as we assess the articles’ correctness and factuality.

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 1 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. Billy Penn has a score of 71% on this scale. A full page at Biasly’s website includes dependability and accuracy ratings for newly released Billy Penn news stories. As previously stated and in accord with the analysis of Billy Penn articles, they have a Good reliability score. Although this score can vary from article to article, the most extreme variations in reliability stem from bias, specifically omission and selection bias.

Consider Alabama NewsCenter which has a “Center” Bias rating and a “Good” analyst reliability score according to Biasly. Just like Billy Penn, who focuses on the Philadelphia community, Alabama NewsCenter concentrates on businesses communities and people throughout Alabama with headquarters in Birmingham. They had one article titled “Javelin anti-tank missiles for Ukraine get Biden praise in Alabama” and another article titled “Vice President Kamala Harris makes impact at Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee” which vary in terms of their levels of bias and reliability. Nonetheless, this shows that stories displaying political leaning can vary and can be less reliable than neutral, non-political articles.

Let’s take one of Billy Penn’s articles entitled “Who is John Stanford, the PPD veteran replacing Outlaw as interim Philly police commissioner?” The author presents a detailed and factual account of John M. Stanford Jr.’s background, career, and qualifications in supporting its arguments. The information is structured in a coherent and logical manner, providing a chronological overview of Stanford’s professional journey within the Philadelphia Police Department.

The piece also includes specific details about Stanford’s roles, such as his position as the first deputy commissioner for field operations and his prior command of Internal Affairs. It also references significant events, such as leadership shakeups and promotions, contributing to a comprehensive understanding of Stanford’s career trajectory.

The article further enhances its accuracy by including direct quotes from relevant individuals, such as Commissioner Danielle Outlaw and Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson. These quotes not only provide additional context but also offer insights into Stanford’s reputation and capabilities as perceived by those who have worked closely with him. Moreover, the article highlights Stanford’s past appearances in news coverage, citing specific instances where he commented on various issues related to the Philadelphia Police Department.

This inclusion of concrete examples adds credibility to the narrative and reinforces the accuracy of the information presented. Overall, the article’s emphasis on specific details, direct quotes from credible sources, and references to Stanford’s documented appearances in news coverage contribute to its portrayal of accurate and reliable information about John M. Stanford Jr.

Analysis of Reliability in Billy Penn Opinion Pieces

Opinion-style journalism allows reports to express their personal opinions and beliefs, rather than general reporting which looks to use a neutral tone. As a result, opinion pieces are less trustworthy and reliable because they are subjective, yet they are still worthwhile to read to increase one’s political viewpoint.

The sections below will further examine Billy Penn’s articles and take a deeper dive into the quality of sources and facts used, as well as selection and omission bias in their articles.

Quality of Sources and Facts Used

Billy Penn is usually good at using reliable sources from both sides of the ideological divide and citing facts as evidence. For instance, in an article entitled “High Stakes in City Council Race as Republicans and Working Families Party Battle for At-Large Seats” the author Meir Rinde provides a comprehensive overview of the upcoming election in Philadelphia and the potential historic changes it could bring to the City Council’s makeup. The piece, published on November 6, 2023, effectively covers the perspectives of both the Republican and Working Families Party candidates, presenting a balanced view of the political landscape.

The article maintains a neutral tone while discussing the possibility of a GOP shutout in District 10 and the potential loss of at-large seats traditionally held by Republicans. The piece delves into the dynamics of the at-large seats and how they have evolved, providing context on Kendra Brooks’ historic win four years ago as a Working Families Party candidate. The article includes information about the broader political landscape, such as the overwhelming Democratic voter registration advantage in Philadelphia. By incorporating this data, Rinde provides readers with a contextual understanding of the challenges faced by Republican candidates in the predominantly Democratic city. Additionally, the article used the additional sources below:

  • Statements and quotes from key figures involved in the election, such as Kendra Brooks, Nicolas O’Rourke, Drew Murray, and Jim Hasher.
  • Information on the financial resources available to the candidates.
  • Endorsements received by Working Families Party candidates, including support from U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, state legislators, and others.
  • Philadelphia Democratic Party chair Bob Brady’s opposition to endorsing non-Democratic candidates and the repercussions for those who openly endorsed Working Families Party candidates.
  • Voter Registration Data
  • Campaign strategies employed by both the Working Families Party and Republican candidates.

Overall, the author demonstrates an understanding of the candidates’ backgrounds, affiliations, and key issues in the race, offering readers a well-rounded view of the political contest. Rinde addresses the endorsements received by the Working Families Party candidates, including support from Democratic officials, and acknowledges the internal struggles within the Democratic Party regarding these endorsements. Moreover, the piece presents the Republican candidates’ platforms, fundraising efforts, and campaign strategies.

While the article does not explicitly delve into personal opinions or biases, the inclusion of quotes from both Republican and Working Families Party candidates allows readers to form their own conclusions. Rinde’s coverage appears well-researched and balanced, providing readers with a fair understanding of the competing narratives in the City Council race. Overall, this article has good reliability.

Selection and Omission Bias

Another example from Billy Penn titled “Reports of Philly GOP’s death have been greatly exaggerated, political observers say” details a struggle for Philadelphia Republicans in this month’s City Council elections.

Regarding selection and omission bias, there is no indication that stories and facts are selected or deselected by the author on ideological grounds. Because Billy Penn is analyzed as a Center source, author Meir Rinde includes facts on all political parties, as seen below. There is no presence of different opinions or political views being left out. Rather, the author exposes readers to widespread political opinions.

“Nicolas O’Rourke, a winning candidate for the progressive Working Families Party, crowded that they’d ‘left the Republican Party to the dustbin of history.’’

“David Oh did better than any Republican mayoral contender since Sam Katz in 2003, and Republican District Councilmember Brian O’Neill outshone his well-funded Democratic challenger, they point out.”

“Republicans control most Pennsylvania county governments, the state Senate, nearly half of the state House, and 8 of 17 U.S. House seats.”

Perhaps selection bias is indicated through the author including a slightly disparaging story towards Republicans, as seen below:

“Despite antipathy toward Trump and anger over the Dobbs abortion ruling and other issues, he and other Republicans insist that sticking with relatively conservative positions – like attacking progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner over crime – remains a winning strategy.”

Nonetheless, Billy Penn has been repeatedly viewed as a reliable source with limited bias in the majority of their articles. Recall that in opinion pieces, there can be issues with factuality, sources, selection, and omission bias, as seen above. The articles we’ve covered so far are mostly reliable and not biased, yet may lean slightly to the left at times.

Moreover, adequate and relevant background information is used. As a slightly Left news organization, Billy Penn does have a small incentive to continue appealing to central or independent viewpoints, as well as those who lean slightly left in their political orientation. Thus far, we have enumerated indications of trustworthiness, which can be used moving forward to keep yourself informed on the most accurate news.

So, Is Billy Penn Reliable?

Finally, it can be argued that Billy Penn is a fairly reliable news outlet with an adequate reputation for journalistic integrity. Its articles follow a consistent pattern of impartiality and accurate reporting. Billy Penn has done a decent job in freeing itself from partisan affiliation. The more you research media reliability and accuracy, the simpler it will be for you to spot problems with sources, selection, omission, and factuality. To help with this, you can use Biasly’s News Bias Checker to uncover reliability problems and assist you in finding the most accurate and dependable news.


Most Popular

Looking to save time on finding the best news stories?
Get increased access to the site, as well as the best stories delivered to your inbox.

    I agree to the privacy policy and would like to receive email updates and promotions.

    Fighting fear with facts.
    Top stories and custom news delivered to your inbox, at a frequency that works for you.

      I agree to the privacy policy and would like to receive email updates and promotions.

      Copy link