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Is Vice Reliable?

By · Jun 2, 2024 · 8 min read

Is Vice Reliable?

Reliability in the media field has become an increasing concern. This is not just a trend in the general public, but also among journalists themselves. In 2022, Pew Research surveyed journalists about their perspectives regarding the field and career, especially in regards to fake news. 71% of journalists found made-up, or fake news, to be a major issue. This is a worrying trend.

Chart showing survey results from U.S. journalists. Highlights: 77% would still pursue journalism, 75% are proud of their work, 70% are satisfied with their job, 72% use negative words to describe the industry.

Pew Research

Within the world of journalism, Vice is known for finding and bringing to light what are frequently considered underreported stories. Because of their fringe style, their reliability is often called into question. While they still discuss popular topics, their typical strength lies in their investigative pieces. Their articles are stylistically unique and tend to draw in a liberal audience. However, liberal principles and investigative journalism do not necessarily indicate that it is unreliable. This article will discuss the overall accuracy and reliability of Vice and how these are determined.

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 anyway?

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

How Reliable is Vice Really?

The political reliability index developed by Biasly objectively assesses news organizations’ accuracy and trustworthiness. Vice’s overall Reliability Score has been rated as ‘Fair’ 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 Vice’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:

Vice’s Fact Analysis Score is ‘Fair,’ which suggests readers can trust some of Vice’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.

Vice’s Source Analysis Score is ‘Fair,’ 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.

Readers should caution, however, that these scores are an overall rating for Vice, meaning they do not apply to every article Vice publishes. Just as a student may have good and bad test scores, although their average grade is an “A”, Vice may average as “Fair” but have certain pieces that are more or less reliable than said average. That being said, these results indicate that Vice is Somewhat reliable, which we will elaborate on by analyzing specific articles.

Vice Accuracy and Reliability

Accuracy and reliability are influenced by their inherent political bias. While bias alone does not indicate a source as unreliable, the public may view a politicized source as less reliable and accurate. Essentially, an organization trying to collect facts to support a previously held worldview is viewed differently than a media company trying to objectively report current events. Vice is one of the many media companies that is openly acknowledged as a politicized news source. When considering the truthfulness and accuracy of Vice as a whole, consider the collective assessment of individual articles published by them, tracking both their selection and omission bias.

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 values each source on a scale from 0 to 100 based on the quality of evidence. Quality is determined by evaluating quantity, number of sources used, and quality, how many perspectives the sources provide. At Biasly readers can see a full report on the reliability of Vice News to see why it is rated as ‘Fair.’ To gain a greater understanding of the relationship between political bias and reliability, here is an article from Fox News titled, “Biden’s $320M Gaza pier: Over budget and under constant threat, a ‘purely political’ misadventure.” While a traditionally more conservative source, this particular article is rated as ‘Center.’ Regardless of the source’s political bias and more conservative views, it is rated as ‘Good’ for its reliability. However, an opinion article also published by Fox, leaning more conservative but still ‘Center’ titled “’You can clap for that’: Biden met with ‘pretty sad, shades of Jeb Bush’ moment at West Point commencement”, is rated as ‘Poor’ for its Reliability. In short, generally speaking, articles that are more politically biased are less reliable. This is particularly true of opinion pieces, which generally are created to support the point of view of the author.

In the case of Vice, one of their more typical articles, Facebook Is Finally Doing Something About the Biggest Spreaders of Anti-Vax Lies,” is rated as “Moderately Liberal” and has “Fair” reliability. This article is a great example of political bias lending itself to unreliability and inaccuracy. It has a good quantity and quality of sources, however, the remarks of the author discussing opposing perspectives are sarcastic and belittling. Discounting the views of those in opposition, not only creates bias but takes away from the article’s potential to be more accurate and reliable for readers wanting to gain information about current events. For example, in the opening paragraphs, the audience is presented with this passage:

“On Thursday evening, Facebook banned the account of Erin Elizabeth, who runs a prominent alternative health site called “Health Nut News.” Last month, she was named as one of the “disinformation dozen” in a report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate.”

The rest of the article refers to all who posted content labeled as disinformation as the “disinformation dozen.” While the author cites these individuals, it is to discredit their views. Naturally, the article does not discuss what elements of their speech were disinformation, instead, it cites the research done by a partisan audience left unexplained to the audience. While it seems to be reliable information cited by the author, the presentation of said information and perspectives leaves the audience uninformed of half of the story without satisfactory evidence in our opinion. One article, however, is not enough to gain a sense of Vice’s overall reliability.

Analysis of Reliability in Vice Opinion Pieces

Opinion pieces are a valuable piece of the editorial space, however, it is important to understand what makes these articles unique. They allow authors to use their vocational skills to discuss passions, beliefs, and opinions in tandem with the more objective reporting on the daily. Although readers find insights into the thoughts and beliefs of those who may disagree, authors ultimately use the sources they find to justify and uphold those views. Understanding that opinion pieces provide a subjective insight, rather than an objective explanation explains that these pieces are generally less reliable than typical reporting.

Quality of Sources and Facts Used

Vice is known for its opinion pieces. In many cases, even their reporting is filled with subjective interpretations of current events. Consider the article, “The Ultimate Opinion Piece: Your Opinion Is Wrong.” This opinion piece is filled with political discussion about views that are considered “scientific,” when in reality are subjective interpretations or explanations of current political circumstances. Essentially it addresses the fact that bias changes the way we interpret the information we receive and how we view the world around us. The article doesn’t take long to read, about 3 to 4 minutes, yet it includes 4 sources. Each of these citations is medium-length, used to show examples of individuals subjectively using scientific words. These were the sources:

  • Governor Rick Perry (Conservative)
  • United Nations Report (neutral)
  • Minister Tony Abbott (Conservative)
  • Sarah Pope (Conservative)

For her argument, these are all sources that certainly support her claim. For the length of the article itself, about a five-minute read, four sources are a significant amount. The full context is provided for each of the quotes which are substantial in length. Each of these sources is simply statements that have been made by each speaker. They are objectively accurate and reliable representations of the perspectives of said individuals. Furthermore, her claims are relatively bipartisan. That being said, the author still has a liberal perspective, as shown in this passage:

“Although some may say Rick Perry is an idiotic manchild with barely enough cognitive function to put on a hat, I disagree. Perry is Vatican-level cunning here, refusing to deny the science, instead twisting science-y words to his own pre-established position.”

While the author has a low opinion of Perry, her bias doesn’t distract from the original claim that politicians have biased perspectives of the world around them. This piece is an example of an opinion editorial that is “Excellent” in its reliability. This does not mean that the interpretation of the evidence presented is necessarily correct or that the audience should agree with the author’s conclusions. Opinions, after all, are subjective, however, it does mean that the audience can feel comfortable with the accuracy and reliability of the evidence provided.

Many factors would differ from the presentation in this piece for pieces that are not as reliable. Quotes may lack names to match who provided the information, perspectives from one political aisle or the other may be more present, or a limited amount of citations is given to support the authors’ claims. Pieces that provide significant evidence, provide a degree of angles and are transparent about where said evidence comes from, like this piece, can be trusted as providing reliable and accurate information.

Selection and Omission Bias

Compare a reliable piece to this ‘Fair’ reliability in OPINION: FFS Britain, Not Again.” This piece, written by Ruby Lott-Lavigna, is intended to promote her displeasure with the results of an election. The article is replete of any evidence or citations directly from the conservative party she opposes and instead focuses on liberal talking points. Furthermore, there is not a single quotation in the entire article, but there are sources for the facts she is essentially using to rant with. For example, she writes:

“Britain voted for a misogynistic, spineless liar. A careerist politician who couldn’t tell you the price of a loaf of bread, but could happily tell you the price of a bottle of Champagne. A man who is willing to lie to the face of the father of an ill child, and who wouldn’t even look at a picture of a child lying on the floor of a hospital lest it make for bad PR. Who was fired from two jobs for lying and published a book of vile, racist bile.”

Her political bias quickly bleeds into omission and selection bias. Essentially the article focuses on liberal issues, neglecting to mention what made the conservative candidate attractive for the voters who chose to vote for him. In “The Ultimate Opinion Piece: Your Opinion Is Wrong”, the author’s opinion was backed by objectively true statements. The evidence presented was trustworthy and accounted for. While it was politically motivated, it was fair.

This piece is distinct as the political motivations overshadow any sense of objective reporting. It becomes emotional and angry, ultimately, discarding any potential alternate perspectives. While she does use some evidence, the presentation causes said evidence to become an extension of her rage rather than a rational explanation of her perspective.

There is a clear difference between these two articles, both of which have clear political motives. One addresses counter-arguments and provides a variety of reputable source material, the other selectively decides which details to include to enhance the emotional capability of their piece. Both are opinion pieces, yet one is ‘Excellent’ in its reliability, while the other is only ‘Fair.’

While opinion pieces are generally less reliable, it depends on how the author decides to approach the presentation of said opinion. Readers concerned with media literacy should be aware of omission and selection bias when considering the reliability and accuracy of any given piece, especially opinion pieces.

Is Vice Reliable?

Overall, Vice is arguably a fairly reliable source. It depends on the piece when it comes to Vice News as there is increased variety in the quality and quantity of their sources. Readers who are concerned about accuracy and reliability should use Biasly’s News Bias and Reliability Checker whenever they have concerns.


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