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Is Forbes Media Reliable?

By · Aug 17, 2023 · 7 min read

Is Forbes Media Reliable?

While Forbes Media is known for its magazines and popular lists, ranking everything from colleges to billionaires (for example Forbes 30 Under 30), they have garnered an elite reputation providing them with nearly 150 million on their platforms each month.

However, is Forbes Media as trustful and credible as people seem to believe? Biasly evaluates the accuracy and dependability of all media outlets– as a result, today’s investigation will determine just how reliable Forbes Media is.

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 Forbes Media Fare in its Reliability?

The political bias index developed by Biasly objectively analyzes and rates the credibility of news sources. Forbes Media has a rating of 91% reliability on our meter, which suggests that readers can trust a great majority of Forbes Media’s online content.

Although this is just an average, this means that certain articles are more trustworthy than others. Nevertheless, our findings align with third-party raters that the source is mostly factual but less reliable based on story selection bias. Below we will analyze the supporting data for these rankings and discuss what to watch for while looking for trustworthy news sources.

Forbes Media Accuracy and Reliability

The accuracy and reliability of media sources are heavily impacted by bias and their political orientation. By evaluating the integrity of Forbes Media’s news stories and deducing how well their claims are supported with evidence, we will be able to closely examine the credibility of this source. Moreover, we will check for selection and omission bias in addition to the article’s 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 for accuracy, with one being the least accurate and 100 being the most. Ratings are calculated by taking into consideration claims with supporting evidence, the number of reliable internal sources used, and the number of external sources. 

A full page of dependability and accuracy ratings for newly released Forbes Media articles can be found here. Recall that analysts have reported Forbes Media to be 91% reliable, which is a very good score. However, this score is an average and thus will vary from article to article. The most extreme variations in credibility are typically caused by bias, specifically omission and selection bias.

For example, “McCarthy Expects Pelosi To Veto Right-Wing Appointees To Capitol Riot Probe” is rated as 100% reliable, whereas another article “Top Senate Republican Won’t Say If He Believes Election Was Fair” is found to be only 81% reliable. Taking a further look into the articles, the second story features much more political leaning than the first, showing us that stories with political leaning are generally less reliable than neutral ones.

Taking a closer look at the second article, “Top Senate Republican Won’t Say If He Believes Election Was Fair” was found to be rated at -10% Center. Concerning the selection and omission bias, author Andrew Solender does include stories from platforms with different viewpoints, such as Fox News and The Washington Post, yet his arguments do fail to provide an opposite viewpoint on the issue. Without this, selection bias is present as quotes such as the following are included:

“Trump attempted to overturn his 2020 election loss by repeatedly volleying unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud, culminating in hundreds of his supporters storming the Capitol on January 6 in an attack that led to the deaths of five people.”

“‘The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.’”

Without an opposite viewpoint, selection bias allows the author to create a narrative in support of the news source’s ideology, which appears to be negative towards Trump. On the other hand, omission bias is harder to find in the article, as the author quotes the three Republican politicians Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo), Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo), Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo) but only exposes readers to the opinion/proven fact that the election was not stolen. 

So, while this article does slightly lean left in terms of its bias and presence of selection and omission bias, Forbes Media is known as a neutral source compared to other big-name news sources. The following section will include more examples like this, including further use of selection and omission bias and the quality of its sources and facts used.

Analysis of Reliability in Forbes Media Opinion Pieces

Opinion-style journalism allows reporters to express their opinions, although general news articles should avoid this to focus only on delivering the facts to their readers. As a result, opinion pieces are typically less trustworthy but are still worthwhile to read to understand and learn about various political viewpoints.

While Forbes Media has a smaller opinion section, the following examples will illustrate the importance of the quality of sources and facts used and how that, along with selection and omission bias, contributes to the overall reliability of a news source.

Quality of Sources and Facts Used

As seen both in this article and the Forbes Media Bias article, this source is generally good at delivering neutral articles. However, “How Obama Thinks” by Dinesh D’Souza is an example where the quality of sources and facts used is rather subpar.

Throughout the article, twenty-one quotes (the majority coming from Obama’s autobiography) are used, twelve being short, eight medium-length quotes, and one long quote. Additionally, the author’s six sources for the article are here:

  • The Weekly Standard
  • Wall Street Journal
  • The London Times
  • The Obama Administration
  • Dreams from My Father (Barack Obama’s autobiography)
  • Chief Charles Bolden
  • Newsweek

While the quality of sources seems to be alright, many claims are not quoted or sourced such as the following:

“The President continues to push for stimulus even though hundreds of billions of dollars in such funds have seemed to do so little. The unemployment rate when Obama took office in January 2009 was 7.7% now it is 9.5%. Yet he wants to spend even more and is determined to foist the entire bill on Americans making $250,000 a year or more.”

“Rejecting the socialist formula, Obama has shown no intention to nationalize the investment banks or the health sector.”

Without proper sources for information as listed above, readers are unaware of where this information is coming from and therefore makes it hard to determine whether or not these claimed facts are biased or accurate.

Not to mention, initial misinformation has since been corrected in the article. The correction states:

“Correction: Dinesh D’Souza writes that on June 15, 2010, Obama gave a speech in response to the BP oil spill that was ‘focused not on cleanup strategies but rather on the fact that Americans ‘consume more than 20% of the world’s oil but have less than 2% of the world’s resources.’ D’Souza slightly misquoted the President who said ‘2% of the world’s oil reserves.’ In addition, Obama’s speech did not discuss concrete measures to investigate the oil spill and bring it under control.”

Given the presence of misinformation in the article, the rest of the article’s credibility would perhaps also be questioned. While the author makes it clear that he does not agree with the Obama administration, the author lacks to match several of their claims with external sources that verify the information.

Selection and Omission Bias

In a continuation using the same article “How Obama Thinks,” there are several occurrences where the author uses selection and omission bias to push their opinion and beliefs onto readers rather than looking to report facts.

For example, the author selects only stories that create a narrative to make Obama a poor politician and president. He quotes the Wall Street Journal’s article titled “Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling” but does not provide any additional quotes from the article- in turn, making it look to readers that there is not more to the story.

Additionally, another incident reported by the Obama Administration is the conditional release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was found in connection with the deaths of 270 people. The article says:

“This was an eye-opener because when Scotland released Megrahi from prison and sent him home to Libya in August 2009, the Obama Administration publicly and appropriately complained.”

The author neglects to share stories that portray Obama in a positive light, and while Forbes Media is typically a neutral source, this article is not as Biasly rates it “Extremely Conservative.” Similarly, omission bias is present as different opinions and political views are left out, only exposing the reader to the author’s ideological perspective, which is conservative.

A clear example of where no opposite viewpoint is present is below:

“Theories abound to explain the President’s goals and actions. Critics in the business community– including some Obama voters who now have buyer’s remorse– tend to focus on two main themes. The first is that Obama is now clueless about business. The second is that Obama is a socialist– not an out-and-out Marxist, but something of a European-style socialist, with a penchant for leveling and government redistribution.”

Once again, the author continues to push his agenda onto readers, not allowing room for any opposing viewpoints to be presented. This can be unhealthy for the media and readers as it adds another level of bias and can even confuse readers.

As you have now read, opinion pieces are associated with factuality and sourcing issues as well as the presence of selection and omission bias. The articles we’ve covered so far vary from benign neutral, to left-leaning, all the way to extremely conservative. As a news organization with a central viewpoint, perhaps it is beneficial for Forbes Media to have articles varying in their political standpoint to appeal to a larger audience.

So Is Forbes Media Reliable? 

While Forbes Media tends to be a neutral and reliable source, there are still cases where credibility varies between articles and authors. As a result, it is important to continue to research reliability and accuracy within the media to make sure what you are reading is true. Recall that methods to determine reliability vary in checking for selection and omission bias as well as looking at the quality of sources and facts used. Biasly’s News Bias Checker is a helpful tool to uncover these reliability concerns and help you find the most accurate and dependable news sources.

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