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Is The Salon Reliable?

By · Sep 13, 2023 · 9 min read

Is The Salon Reliable?

As an online news website, the Salon is recognized for its wide-ranging coverage of various topics which are usually associated with a remarkably liberal perspective. With a monthly readership of 7.6 million visitors all around the US, the Salon occupies a notable presence in digital media. Because political leaning can affect trustworthiness, and Salon has a liberal view, its reliability is a subject of consideration.

Considering Salon’s distinct liberal leanings, there may be concerns among readers regarding its reliability as a source of information. At Biasly, we aim to assess the accuracy and credibility of various media contents. In this context, we will explore further Salon’s reliability and commitment to veracity.

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 Salon Fare in its Reliability?

The political bias index developed by Biasly objectively assessed news organizations’ dependability. The Salon has an analyst rating of 66% reliability on our meter, which suggests readers can trust some of Salon’s content online, and a computer reliability rating of 67% which indicates a Fair rating, or Grade C, on its source and quotes’ quality. On the other hand, since there is an average, specific articles could be more or less trustworthy. Our findings align with those of other third-party raters, displaying mostly factual information because they have retracted several stories in the past or had pieces that were not factual.

Let us analyze the supporting data for these rankings and discuss what to watch out for while searching for trustworthy news sources.

The Salon’s Accuracy and Reliability

Bias and political orientation remarkably influence the news organization’s truthfulness. Like countless other media companies, the Salon is regularly accused of putting a liberal agenda over facts. It is possible to assess the accuracy of the Salon’s news stories and evaluate the quality of sources that are used. We will check for selection and omission bias while we assess the articles’ accuracy 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 assesses accuracy as a percentage, starting from 1 with the least accuracy and 100 with the most accuracy. Ratings are determined by using the number of credible internal and external sources, evaluating statements, and corroborating evidence. A full page at Biasly’s website includes dependability and accuracy ratings for newly released Salon news stories. As previously presented, according to the analyzed reports, the Salon is generally 66% reliable. This score can vary from article to article, though, and the most extreme variations in dependability are caused by bias, notably omission and selection bias.

For instance, NBC News has a moderately liberal bias at -32% and 89% reliable, according to Biasly. NBC has an article called, “After 9/11 families told Biden not to attend memorials, FBI could release some secret files” with a 98% reliability and 10% center bias. On the other hand, they have an article titled, “North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum’s GOP debate status in doubt after leg injury” with a 25% reliability and -50% moderately liberal bias. Consequently, typically, stories exhibiting political bias are less credible than nonpartisan ones.

Additionally, the Salon has an article titled, “Study finds risk of death related to pregnancy more than doubled between 1999 and 2019 in the U.S.” This article is rated at a 2% center-leaning bias. Concerning the selection and omission bias, the authors manage to provide data about death related to pregnancy in the U.S. The general reasons for maternal deaths are given, but the causes of increased maternal deaths between 1999 and 2019 are not given. The article could be more explanatory and holistic if it included the reasons for this increase. Because it leads the focus toward the increase of maternal death but not why it has doubled. For instance:

“Black women were more likely to die during pregnancy or soon after in every year from 1999 through 2019, compared with Hispanic, American Indian and, Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and white women. That is a key finding of our recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.”

This quote informs the reader about the increase in maternal deaths concerning different groups but does not explain the causes. The article displayed a stance near the “center” primarily because of official nonpartisan sources. Also, the article has 60% reliability because the authors avoid personal opinions and present only objective results which increase the reliability. They delivered the issue clearly by using official, credible sources. Therefore, this article is mostly reliable.

To assess Salon’s trustworthiness, we will look at more stories like these we’ve reviewed above, including the articles’ use of selection and omission bias and the quality of sources and facts used.

Analysis of Reliability in Salon Opinion Pieces

In order to express personal views and perspectives, opinion-style journalism is a convenient way for reporters. Still, excessive opinion might be something to be careful about while writing a general news article. Because they include the author’s personal view, opinion pieces are less reliable. Nevertheless, they can be worth reading to improve understanding of different political viewpoints.

Salon’s leaning to promote liberal ideologies and individuals have caused issues in their reliability. The sources, quotations, and language used in the news make the reader question the accuracy and credibility of the Salon. Their commitment to anti-Trump agenda news displaced their commitment to reporting truth, rather satisfies their primarily liberal readers. The article “You will get violence”: Leading democracy expert says Donald Trump is not running to win election” was presented in a reporting article in the news source. However, throughout the article, it is an opinion piece with a clear liberal perspective. The author does not refrain from using strong language and negative sentiments about Trump.

Quality of Sources and Facts Used

The Salon is successful at using sources that reflect both sides of the political aisle and citing facts as evidence, but this is not the case for every article. For example, the article titled, ““We call that kind of love a cult”: Experts on the latest disturbing poll of Trump supporters”. The article by Chauncey Devega utilizes 13 quotes with different lengths..Of those 13 quotes, four of them are short, two of them are medium, and seven of them are long. This many quotes indicate a healthy amount of sources. Now, we will determine the quality and accuracy of such sources. These sources included:

Overall, the quality of the sources looks fairly reliable. The biggest problem is that two of them are not experts compared to the other sources, and the credibility of their quotes diminishes because of that. The title indicates that the issue is explained by using experts. However, a right-wing pundit and documentary maker were used as sources, but they made the article questionable since they are not experts. Therefore, the credibility of the article may be negatively affected. Furthermore, most of the quotes are negative personal opinions and experiences from their sources and are not as much about statistical or objective facts, as seen in the example below.

“I know this because I was once quite deep in the MAGA rabbit hole. Had Trump won in 2020, I probably would have gone deeper into it, with the odds of escaping close to zero.”

The article is accurate to the event overall, but it tends to emphasize the negative aspects of Trump supporters while downplaying and omitting the contested aspects. To give the author credit, the article is indeed highly liberal. The author leans towards the left within the article by using ideological-driven non-expert sources and failing to provide holistic facts overall.

The author, Chauncey Devega, relied on partisan sources and their personal experiences. However, to enhance reliability, the author references Joe Walsh as a source but does so sarcastically, labeling him a “never-Trumper.” This approach by the author may compromise the objectivity and reliability of Walsh’s quote. Additionally, the expert mentioned, Steven Hassan, has controversial works according to some scientists, making him a somewhat contentious source. Also, the author quotes a lot while omitting critical information, potentially guiding readers’ thoughts. The article needs more sources, specifically experts, it aims to explain the issue from that angle.

Throughout the article, the author uses left-leaning sources and negative quotations but lacks alternative perspectives. Even though some of the sources are credible, evidence suggests a committed liberal-leaning stance in the article, therefore the article is not a trustworthy source of information about Trump’s supporters.

On the other hand, the article “Were the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings “nuclear tests”? The U.S. government said so” presents a well-written article example that uses qualified sources. In the article, the author, Norman Solomon, explained the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. He utilizes non-political sources, primarily scientists, such as the Manhattan Project’s director, Gen. Leslie Groves, and a physicist from the Manhattan Project, David H. Frisch. The author avoided using unofficial sources and personal opinions, instead, he used the experts and researchers. The article shows an excellent example of an opinion piece by using expert quotes and reliable sources.

Selection and Omission Bias

In a more extreme example from the Salon, the author presents selection bias, though she tries to be objective. The article “There is no magic legal wand to make Trump go away”: Experts split on whether Trump is disqualified” by Areeba Shah focuses on whether Trump is disqualified or not. The author quotes experts, but the quotes tend to depict Trump as disqualified while omitting counterarguments. For example, the author references a New York Times article as a source that includes a quote about Donald Trump:

“cannot be president — cannot run for president, cannot become president, cannot hold office — unless two-thirds of Congress decides to grant him amnesty for his conduct on Jan. 6”

The author fails to explore the reasoning behind the conclusion presented in The New York Times article about Trump’s disqualification according to the experts. Nevertheless, the author clarifies the viewpoint of a federal judge, quoted in the article, who explained the reason for Trump’s disqualification. In other words, the author tends to omit information about the reasons for disqualification and only provides the conclusions that say Trump is disqualified. Throughout the article, the author gives information that conveys a negative attitude toward Trump and barely discusses alternative views. In the article, there is only one alternative argument from an expert who disagrees with Trump’s disqualification for future presidency.

In the article we discussed earlier, “We call that kind of love a cult”: Experts on the latest disturbing poll of Trump supporters,” the author omits any view from the alternative perspectives. He uses only non-Republican sources and arranges the title of the article suitable for the left ideology. He refrains from displaying alternative views and tries to portray the issue from only one point of view which reduces the reliability. None of the sources are Republican; two are nonpartisan, neutral scientists, two were former democrats, and one is non-Republican. For instance, a quote from the article:

“Though many of us understand this now, too little emphasis has been put on how millions of Americans lost their minds and became right-wing zombies. It’s the media, stupid!”

It is possible to see that many Americans are labeled as right-wing supporters, which is seen as negative, and it is assumed that people perceive the media similarly. By omitting different points of view, the author diminishes the article’s reliability, causing it to resemble an opinion piece.

In opinion pieces, issues with factuality, sources, selection, and omission are frequently present. The articles we’ve covered so far are mostly biased and exclude adequate, relevant background and information that may contradict the author’s position. As a news organization with a liberal slant, the Salon has an incentive to continue appealing to liberal viewpoints to maintain the interests of its sizable left-wing readership. But now that we’ve enumerated typical trustworthiness indications, you may stay current by informing yourself on the most accurate news.

So Is the Salon Reliable?

In the end, it can be said that the Salon is a somewhat reliable news source with a reputation for journalistic unity, despite some exceptions. Thus, the credibility and accuracy of its publications oscillate. The more you examine media reliability, the easier it will be to determine 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.



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