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Is the Boston Herald Biased?

By · Jun 3, 2023 · 7 min read

Is the Boston Herald Biased?

Founded in 1846 as a newspaper simply called “The Herald,” the Boston Herald is a major regional news organization and has been so since its founding. Today, the Boston Herald runs a digital publication, which gets around 2 million views each month, in addition to its print publications.

While the Boston Herald is certainly a major local news publication in Massachusetts, is it biased? In this article, we will analyze the biases of the Boston Herald and determine what views the news organization might be attempting to spread.

How Does Biasly Rate News Sources?

Biasly’s algorithms produce bias ratings to help provide multiple perspectives on given articles. Biasly has analyzed 200,000+ news articles from more than 3,200 news sources through our A.I. technology and team of political analysts to find the most factual, unbiased news stories.

Biasly determines the degree of political bias in news sources by using Biasly’s Bias Meter Rating, in which Biasly’s team analyzes media sources’ reliability and bias and produces three scores, a Reliability Score that measures the accuracy of media sources; an A.I. Bias Score, evaluated by A.I.; and an Analyst Bias Score evaluated by political analysts. These scores are rated based on seven rating metrics including Tone, Tendency, Diction, Author Check, Selection/Omission, Expediency Bias, and Accuracy. These metrics help our analysts to determine the political attitude of the article.

Our A.I. machine-learning system employs natural language processing and entity-specific sentiment analysis to examine individual articles and determine their bias levels. By analyzing the key terms in an article such as policies, bias phrases, political terminologies, politicians, and their nicknames, the algorithms can rate the attitude of the text.  Bias scores range from -100% and 100%, with higher negative scores being more liberal and higher positive scores being more conservative, and 0% being neutral. 

Is the Boston Herald Politically Biased?

While smaller, local news sources tend to be less biased than large national or international publications, does this hold true in the case of the Boston Herald? 

Biasly’s A.I. media bias rating of the Boston Herald comes out to 16%, making it “Somewhat Conservative.” The Policy Leaning score of the Boston Herald came out to 20%, meaning the publication typically aligns with Conservative political beliefs, albeit moderately. 

Other third-party media bias research agencies gave the Boston Herald similar scores. Media Bias/Fact Check scored the Boston Herald as right-center, meaning the Herald favors moderately right-leaning politics in its reporting. 

The largest local news publication in Boston, and by extension the Boston Herald’s largest competitor, is the moderately-liberal Boston Globe. In comparison to the Boston Herald’s roughly 2 million monthly page views, the Boston Globe receives closer to 10 million views each month. To some degree, the Boston Herald’s origin as a daily newspaper might contribute somewhat to its conservative-leaning as, according to Pew Research, 40% of daily newspaper readers identify as conservative while 33% identify as moderate, leaving only 22% identifying as liberal.

Source: Pew Research

Before we begin, we need to discuss bias. Bias is a natural function of humans, and we can express it both consciously and unconsciously. Bias is one of the most fundamental forms of pattern recognition in humans. This isn’t to lower the bar and say that “all things are biased,” but to explain the process in which we may come to trust certain news organizations that display patterns of coverage. 

On the media’s part, there is an incentive to retain audiences, encourage them to purchase subscriptions, and rate products positively. Bias is a two-way street, people want to see news stories about things they care about, and the media needs viewers to continue their operations. This creates a positive feedback loop that influences what stories are covered and from what perspective. This also explains the actions of more liberal news organizations.

Analysis of Boston Herald Online Articles

While we have established that the Boston Herald is a somewhat conservative news source, let’s take a closer look at one of the publication’s online articles to get a better grasp of what this means more specifically. 

The article “Florida Gov. DeSantis sends migrants to Martha’s Vineyard,” was rated by Biasly as Moderately Conservative at 36% with a policy rating of 26%, also Moderately Conservative. The article uses a handful of positive sentiments for Republican politicians and negative sentiments for Democratic politicians. One of these positive sentiments is regarding then-Governor of Massachusetts Charlie Baker, a notably moderate Republican while the other positive sentiment is towards Governor Ron DeSantis. For example, the article quotes Charlie Baker’s press secretary in stating, “At this time, short-term shelter services are being provided by local officials, and the Administration will continue to support those efforts,”’ which provides a positive sentiment towards the moderate Republican. The article also includes a negative sentiment towards the Biden Administration and another towards Democratic Governor of Illinois J.B. Pritzker. A quote from Fox News present in the article makes mention of “the Biden Administration’s open border policies,” which provided a negative sentiment towards Joe Biden.

This article does show some conservative bias in its tone in how it describes the issue of illegal immigration, for example, it states that “It appears the governors of Florida and Texas have had enough of handling the influx of border crossers.” However, this bias is fairly moderate and not terribly explicit. On the other hand, the author of this article has written for moderate conservative news sources such as the Chicago Tribune, liberal-leaning publications such as The Denver Post, as well as sites rated as center like Because of this variety of publications in which the author has written, the author himself does not seem to have a significant bias one way or the other, or at least does a good job at hiding it.

Analysis of the Boston Herald’s Opinions Pieces

As is the case with all opinion pieces, the Boston Herald’s opinion pieces are inherently biased by their nature as the opinions of the authors. Because news reporting is intended to provide facts, any biases in presenting these facts will likely come off as negative. In contrast, opinion pieces are expected to be biased because they are providing the author’s views on a topic and trying to convince the readers of this view. As an example, we will examine a couple of the Boston Herald’s opinion pieces to see their biases.

The title of the opinion piece “Editorial: Biden hedges on G7 trip amid debt crisis,” comes off as somewhat loaded in its criticism of the Biden Administration. The title implies that Biden’s focus on the upcoming G7 summit in Japan over a debt crisis at home is negative. This is evidenced by the statement “Is this any time for a week-long trip away? Biden apparently thought a jaunt to Japan, then Papua New Guinea followed by Sydney was a good idea, but the damage control is in full froth.” The rest of the article continues the trend of the title in its criticisms, such as when it states at the end of the article that “We wouldn’t be in this mess if the Biden Administration hadn’t gone on a multi-trillion dollar spending spree. Apparently, that was just traveling money.” Unsurprisingly, Biasly’s A.I. bias rating rated this article Moderately Conservative.

The next article, “You: Celebrating 70 years of alliance between Korea, U.S.,” comes off as more objective and is more about the Korean author celebrating and appreciating the relationship between the United States and South Korea. This appreciation can be seen in the article when the author writes “Thanks to the alliance, the ROK proved able and emerged from the ravages of war to develop into a thriving democracy and market economy.” Because it is not a particularly contentious topic, the article isn’t particularly politically biased. Although it is clearly biased towards a positive relationship between the U.S. and South Korea, this is not an issue that is controversial in U.S. politics as both parties agree on keeping a close relationship with South Korea.

While these two articles are only a small example of the many opinion pieces on the Boston Herald’s website, they cover the two main types of opinion pieces on their site, those being the more formal editorials and the more casual, personal opinion columns. 

Who owns the Boston Herald?

The Boston Herald is currently owned by the newspaper publishing company MediaNews Group, also known as Digital First Media. MediaNews Group is owned by the secretive hedge fund Alden Global Capital, whose website tells us little to nothing about the organization. Founded by Randall D. Smith and Heath Freeman, Alden Global Capital has been purchasing many news publications in recent years in a practice known as “Vulture Capitalism,” in which investor purchases bankrupt companies, then do whatever it takes to make that company profitable enough to sell. 

While the company now owns a huge portfolio of news organizations, there seems to be little in common in the bias of these organizations. Their portfolio includes the conservative-leaning Boston Herald and Chicago Tribune as well as the liberal-leaning Baltimore Sun and Denver Post. This lack of a trend in bias, as well as the criticisms of Alden Global Capital’s business practices, suggests that the organization doesn’t have a political motivation, but is instead interested in making money from small news publications rather than concerning themselves with the news itself, allowing their owned news publications to do so themselves. Essentially, Alden Global buys out bankrupt local news publications to make quick money.

How to Evaluate and Uncover Bias

It can often be difficult to tell if the news you watch is biased. If you have settled on a news channel, it’s usually because you trust the information you are gaining. Unfortunately, many trust the information they are hearing because it confirms what they already believe. This is referred to as “confirmation bias.” It is important to challenge your beliefs and get third-party verification that what you are hearing is the full story. This is why we recommend using Biasly to compare different news stories side-by-side using our bias ratings to figure out what both sides think of a political issue.

Biasly’s score for the Boston Herald was 16%, or Somewhat Conservative, and other third-party research agencies agreed with Biasly’s evaluation placing the Boston Herald as a moderately conservative news source. However, it is important to keep in mind that bias will vary from article to article and by author. Because of this, it is always helpful to analyze articles on a case-by-case basis. To do this, you can use Biasly’s News Bias Checker.

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