April 1st 2019
One of the Holy Grail features for informing readers of media bias is the highlighting of phrases, as blue or red, with the intensity of blueness or redness representing the amount of bias. We did that for Dem/Rep bias in legislative proposals. We now do that for Left- and Right-rated media (with Left-Center and Right-Center contributing half as much to the intensity).
Although it makes a better reader to keep fonts the same size, it is also interesting to scale fonts. Here we scale with the frequency of the phrase. This is a section of an article from REDSTATE. Who knew that “created friction” is used dominantly in left-rated media, while “political firms” and “long-time members” are usually from right-rated media? As is often the case these days, right-wing media likes to turn left-wing people and organizations, their concerns, and their speech, into punching bags. So phrase-bias highlighting is not by itself a perfect way to score article-bias.
On the other side, here is a section of an article from the HUFFINGTON POST, where there is not much bias, but all of the phrases with bias are blue.
It takes a lot of infrastructure to ingest articles, extract as high as 5-gram phrases of interest, and keep track of biases as they may have been expressed recently (one probably would not want to keep data around too long, since the landscape is ever evolving). CivicFeed can do the visualization in real-time, about as quickly as one can post the text to the service.
It’s not the last word on bias of course, since the same phrases can be used with very different perspectives. Especially when quoting in order to mock. Frequency in left-rated media does not always imply left-aligned use (“three minutes” is surely blue-spurious here). But phrasing often does betray bias, especially subtle and tribal bias, that one might miss if one were not always vigilant. Like rating the source, and showing the background of the author, highlighting phrases for bias gives readers one more weapon in the fight for news integrity.
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