“Equipping Readers With The Truth” is the subtitle for The Western Journal founded in 2008 by political consultant Floyd Brown. This news company based out of Phoenix, AZ has nearly 50,000 Twitter followers as well as nearly 40 million unique visitors monthly (The Western Journal LinkedIn).
Their enticing subtitle begs the question of whether or not this source provides readers with unbiased news coverage. In turn, this article will analyze The Western Journal’s online articles to determine whether or not there is bias present in their articles. Additionally, factors that contribute to media bias in general will be examined throughout the article.
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. a 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 higher positive scores being more conservative, and 0% being neutral.
Is the Western Journal Politically Biased?
The New York Times took a deep dive into The Western Journal, coming up with several interesting and informative tidbits such as this:
“Even the right-wing publication’s audience of more than 36 million people, eclipsing many of the nation’s largest news organizations, doesn’t know much about the company, or who’s behind it.”
You can read more of their insightful article about the source here.
Biasly’s rating for The Western Journal is based on two scores, one from its computer algorithms based on AI, and one from our Analysts. Biasly rates The Western Journal with a Computer bias score of Very Conservative and an Analyst bias score of Moderately Conservative. Essentially, this means that Biasly analyzed and determined that this source provides political coverage from an American conservative political perspective.
These analysts’ scores are based on at least fifteen articles being reviewed– specifically by one liberal, one moderate, and one conservative analyst. The more articles reviewed also indicate a more accurate analyst score, so as Biasly rates more articles, the scores can fluctuate and become more accurate. Moreover, Biasly’s analysis score closely aligns with other third-party research agencies.
With this being said, the remainder of this article will mention ways to identify bias so that readers like you can separate opinions from facts and will be more informed consumers of news and media.
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 Bias in Western Journal Online Articles
Determining bias is difficult sometimes so common metrics to focus on include Tone, Author, and Diction. Tone is the attitude present in the writing and is related to (but separate) from diction, which is the writer’s specific word choices. Lastly, the author metric looks at the author of the article and their demonstrated stances on issues determined through their past articles and social media posts.
The first article we’ll look at is titled “Video: Heartland American Does the Impossible, Identifies Someone Who’s ‘Happy’ That Biden Is POTUS” which Biasly rates as 100% or “Extremely Conservative.”
The tone is made clear from the beginning of the article and is very negative towards former Obama and current Biden administrations, blatantly blaming them at fault for the current state of the US. This right-leaning article states the following:
“When it became clear he had no solution to the financial crisis of 2008 except to blame Republicans and that his solution to national health care, which would eventually become known by the eponym Obamacare, was a thoroughgoing disaster.”
Further, the author’s diction is pretty extreme and puts down any liberal political ideals. Specific words and phrases can be picked out from this paragraph:
“Inflation is skyrocketing. America is losing its global prestige through a series of geopolitical disasters, most of the President’s non-economic agenda is stalled (although that’s probably for the best), the administration wants us to plunge into a new era of austerity and the guy at the helm seems to have zero control over the ship.”
Terms used such as “skyrocketing,” “losing its global prestige,” “disasters” and “zero control” heavily implicate the author’s stance in this article, as heavy amounts of bias can be found in this article just by looking at the author’s tone and word choices.
Lastly, author C. Douglas Golden has written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014, therefore his companies and articles indicate to us that he is very much a conservative himself, which is reflected in his writing. Golden’s past articles include titles such as “Obama’s Old Campaign Manager Cals Dems ‘Bedwetters,’ Warns Trump Could ‘Absolutely’ Win,” and “Border Patrol Union Slams Biden, Says His Admin Is Distracting You from the Real Problem.” His personal Twitter account further reveals his conservative biases.
Overall, this article is a clear-cut example of a right-leaning article, which aligns with Biasly’s analysis of The Western Journal being “Very Conservative.” However, even though this article falls on one side of the political spectrum, media bias can vary between articles and titles, even when they come from the same source. This reinforces the importance of scanning for bias in terms of tone, diction, author, and omission bias in any article that you come across.
An example from the same organization, The Western Journal, with little to no indications of bias is titled “This Is How The New York Times Mentions the Loudoun County Sexual Assault Case for the First Time.” Despite its heavy subject matter, Biasly rates this article as “Center,” given the very cut-and-dry language. Additionally, the author tackles the difficult topic with a neutral tone and limits any sort of emotionally loaded language to influence the reader’s opinion:
“Since The Daily Wire broke the story on Oct. 11, a Loudoun County school board member stepped down, students staged a walkout and parents protested at the Department of Justice.”
In turn, this demonstrates that just because an organization identifies with one side of the political spectrum, does not inherently mean that all of their content will reflect that.
Analysis of Western Journal Opinion Articles
Before we take a look into analyzing opinion articles from The Western Journal, it is important to distinguish the difference between opinion and reporting. Reporting is intended to be neutral and to give the facts and quotes from primary sources. Contrastingly, opinions are an outlet for columnists to express their personal views on issues and current events in society, In the above section, we saw elements of both factual reporting and opinions, therefore The Western Journal does have both of these elements within their organization.
Consider the article titled “Op-Ed: Is a Biden Impeachment Part of the Democratic Plan for 2024?” The title suggests negativity and incapability in the Bdiden administration and further heavily loaded language is also present in the article, including the following:
“Biden is mentally and physically weak, and while he was able to hide in his basement during the 2020 campaign, over the course of his presidency it has become impossible to completely hide his family from the electorate.”
This, in combination with the article’s title and the remainder of its content, indicates that the author does not intend to provide a fair and objective reporting of facts.
On the other hand, this article titled “Op-Ed: One Simple Energy Question Devastated ‘Net-Zero- Pipe Dreams” has a more objective title that is focused on informing the reader rather than inserting a personal opinion. Reliable articles such as these use neutral language and facts from credible sources. Based on the title alone, it is safe to assume that this article will feature much less bias than the one above.
All in all, these articles, in addition to those analyzed above, only represent a small portion of The Western Journal’s content, but do indicate a heavy presence of bias and opinion in their articles; once again showing the importance of being able to determine subjective writing from genuine reporting.
Who Owns the Western Journal?
The Western Journal was founded by Floyd G. Brown, a longtime conservative political activist. The organization is now owned by Liftable Media, founded by Brown, who continues to be very involved in the political scene based out of Phoenix, Arizona. The Western Journal is 100% owned by members of the Brown family, with no outside investors or funding.
Floyd G Brown – Source: Wikipedia
On its About Us page, they explain how the site was created to “provide an alternative for readers fed up with the overt leftism of establishment media outlets.” The page also explains that they uphold traditional Christian values articulated in the Bible and that they advocate for conservative positions on most issues.
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 their beliefs. 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.
Even though Biasly gave The Western Journal a Very Conservative bias score, recall that bias will vary between articles and that The Western Journal will not always exclusively push conservative political content. Additionally, some articles will have more or less bias than others– with general news known for being less biased than opinion pieces, as we discovered. So, while every article you read will be biased to some degree, it is critical to use resources such as Biasly’s News Check to help you determine the bias that you may or may not be consuming.