News source recommendation

  • #1
collinsmark
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I want to subscribe to a reputable news source (even if I have to pay). I want a news source that has not abandoned journalistic integrity.

I'll still keep my current sources of news (Yahoo!, Google news, NPR, BBC, etc.) but I am now -- out of principle if for no other reason -- feeling like I should better financially support at least one legitimate news organization.

I think I'm safe in speculating that most PF members live in a democratic society. Democracy requires that voters are well informed on the issues. As a citizen of a democratic society I feel it is my duty to stay well informed.

For a couple decades now I've always been saying that Rupert Murdock is and was the biggest a--hole/ass-clown alive in the world today. But now with the fake-news websites that have been popping up all over the place he's been relegated to being almost commonplace. Yes, as it turns out, Rupert Murdock is no more of an ass-clown than the hundreds of other progenitors of dishonest news. He's just a dime-a-dozen these days. It's a sad time for humanity. Very sad indeed.

Don't get me wrong, Yahoo! and Google news have done a great job on filtering out much/most of misinformation, but there's just so much of it that an Internet based news source can do. (Facebook, not so much, but today promised to try to do better).

I live in the USA at the moment, by the way. So far I'm considering:
  • Giving NPR a bigger donation
  • Subscribing to Washington Post
  • Subscribing to New York Times
Does anybody have other suggestions?
 

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  • #2
Evo
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I know that the Washington Post and the New York Times both have media bias, and have found media bias in NPR. Earlier today I found out that news outlet Reuters failed to fact check a bogus twitter from Trump claiming that he kept a Ford car plant in Kentucky open, turns out Ford had never planned to close that plant.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/donald-trump-writes-misleading-tweet-175020325.html

Shameful, just shameful. Reuters posted false information!

And no, this isn't the start of the things Trump has done. Just that there seems to be no news source you can trust.
 
  • #5
phinds
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I think they're all biased so don't pay much attention to that (although I recognize that it is by far the most egregious on FOX followed fairly closely by MSNBC) but I find the BBC to be good and in printed media I like The Economist.
 
  • #6
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Have they been fact checked Greg?
Who would do that? Personally I find them the least biased. It's all global intelligence reporting.
 
  • #8
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Well, there's this, but then, has this been fact checked? I've come to the point that I question every news source. The BBC and Al Jezeera seem not to be too bad, so far.
I guess Stratfor is less news and more analysis. No doubt BBC and Al Jazeera are top notch.
 
  • #9
phinds
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I guess Stratfor is less news and more analysis. No doubt BBC and Al Jazeera are top notch.
When I watched Al Jazeera USA TV edition a couple of years ago it was excellent, as it was an attempt to emulate the BBC, but its WRITTEN web page was MASSIVELY anti-semitic and completely biased in favor of all things Arab.
 
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  • #10
Evo
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When I watched Al Jazeera USA TV edition a couple of years ago it was excellent, as it was an attempt to emulate the BBC, but its WRITTEN web page was MASSIVELY anti-semitic and completely biased in favor of all things Arab.
That is true, no news source can be trusted. If I had to pick one, it would have to be the BBC.
 
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  • #11
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The BBC is definitely my favourite to the point that I tend to rely on it entirely (which is probably not a great thing). I used to watch Al Jazeera Arabic TV but I gave up on it many years ago. It was almost comically biased. I'm not sure about their English channel/website though.
 
  • #12
BillTre
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I like the New York Times, but mostly because I think they make some of the best short science videos.
Here is their LIGO video for example.
 
  • #13
gleem
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I think bias is unavoidable especially in politics since feeling run deep. Going on-line and searching for article on "bias of ... " you get some interesting and contradictory results showing that bias may be in the eyes of the reader too. Some try hard to avoid bias but we are human and other flaunt it. Two service mentioned above seem to be noted for their efforts to avoid political favoritism "The Economist" and Stratfor Enterprises. Although the Economist may be mostly politically neutral is does espouse an economic philosophy. The Stratfor Enterprise discusses bias and issues avoiding it. in an article If We Covered the U.S. Election which I found very interesting and indicating that it might be worth following routinely. Thanks @Greg Bernhardt
 
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  • #14
collinsmark
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  • #15
collinsmark
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On a more lighthearted note: today, The Onion posted a couple articles on this subject. (The Onion is a satirical, online magazine that parodies news for the sake of humor. I do not consider The Onion a fake-news source or a real news source; they are a comedy and satire source. Their articles are often quite pertinent, nevertheless.)

Facebook User Verifies Truth Of Article By Carefully Checking It Against Own Preconceived Opinions
http://www.theonion.com/article/facebook-user-verifies-truth-article-carefully-che-54790

Longtime Reader Of Lib-Slaves.info Sick Of Mainstream Bias On Sites Like WideAwakePatriot.com
http://www.theonion.com/article/longtime-reader-lib-slavesinfo-sick-mainstream-bia-54745

“It’s so frustrating to see so-called journalists claiming that John Podesta’s hacked emails show his involvement in child prostitution, when in reality, they’re a clear indication of his membership in a D.C.–wide cannibalism ring."
Ha ha! :biggrin::DD The sad thing is I've met several [real] people like that in the last several months.
 
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  • #16
collinsmark
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I just found a fairly good stab at a summary of sources, recently posted on imgur. It's limited to USA news sources. At a glance it seems like a pretty good start:

A decent breakdown of all things real and fake news.
7xHaUXf.jpg

(Source: http://imgur.com/7xHaUXf)
 
  • #17
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I read the Guardian and the Huffington Post, besides BBC News.
Saturday Night Live also puts things in perspective.
 
  • #18
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I just found a fairly good stab at a summary of sources, recently posted on imgur. It's limited to USA news sources. At a glance it seems like a pretty good start:

A decent breakdown of all things real and fake news.
7xHaUXf.jpg

(Source: http://imgur.com/7xHaUXf)
I would classify FOX as Utter Garbage in its entirety.
 
  • #19
phinds
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I would classify FOX as Utter Garbage in its entirety.
Yes, and I agree but millions of people disagree with us.
 
  • #20
phinds
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I find it amusing that they show The Economist as skewed conservative since most of my conservative acquaintances think it is a raving liberal publication. Of course they also think that about CNN. Come to think of it I guess they think it about everything to the left of FOX.
 
  • #21
jim hardy
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i take "Foreign Affairs" , the CFR magazine, just to see what's up in high society.
Sample: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/arti...pJobID=1061363676&spReportId=MTA2MTM2MzY3NgS2
Post–Cold War populists such as Chávez, Putin, and Erdogan took a slow and steady approach to dismantling democracy. These leaders first come to power through democratic elections and subsequently harness widespread discontent to gradually undermine institutional constraints on their rule, marginalize the opposition, and erode civil society. The playbook is consistent and straightforward: deliberately install loyalists in key positions of power (particularly in the judiciary and security services) and neutralize the media by buying it, legislating against it, and enforcing censorship. This strategy makes it hard to discern when the break with democracy actually occurs, and its insidiousness poses one of the most significant threats to democracy in the twenty-first century.

The steady dismantling of democratic norms and practices by democratically elected leaders, what we call “authoritarianization,” marks a significant change in the way that democracies have historically fallen apart. Data on authoritarian regimes show that until recently, coups have been the primary threats to democracy. From 1946 to 1999, 64 percent of democracies failed because of such insurgencies. In the last decade, however, populist-fueled authoritarianization has been on the rise, accounting for 40 percent of all democratic failures between 2000 and 2010 and matching coups in frequency. If current trends persist, populist-fueled authoritarianization will soon become the most common pathway to autocracy.

I don't think you will find an unbiased source for news. "Men In Black" had the right idea, pick up observations from the fringe and investigate them yourself. Wiki references are often helpful
I'd never head about "Operation Timber Sycamore" by that name until a fringe site mentioned it last night.
Wikipedia's reference 3 took me here
http://www.janes.com/article/59374/us-arms-shipment-to-syrian-rebels-detailed [Broken]
JanesArmstoSyria.jpg
 
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  • #22
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I know that the Washington Post and the New York Times both have media bias, and have found media bias in NPR.
I think they're all biased
I think bias is unavoidable especially in politics since feeling run deep. Going on-line and searching for article on "bias of ... " you get some interesting and contradictory results showing that bias may be in the eyes of the reader too.

@gleem makes the most salient point here. Your idea of "media bias" may not be your neighbor's idea. And we tend not to see our own bias for what it is. And since there is no agreement on what constitutes bias, there is never going to be a truly bias-free news outlet; especially since an absolutely accurate rendering of events in the abbreviated, anecdotal, deadline-driven form that news requires is impossible anyway.

Beyond that, having been a newspaper reporter for 10 years when younger, I can say that most persons who haven't been in the business have no idea how newspapers & TV operate. The flaws in mainstream journalism are systemic more than they are political & are shaped mostly by the pressures of competition, the bottom line, tight deadlines, & journalistic convention. Think "pack journalism" for starters - although that's just the tip of the iceberg as far as conventions are concerned. Another is "there are two sides to every story" and although that's meant to be a good convention, it does a lot of damage. Outside of the problem of convention, think "progressively less & less money to pay for real reporters out there doing real reporting"; for a more serious form of bias than merely political, think "corporate ownership/hegemony/status quo."

Despite all that, mainstream outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, and NPR still manage to strive for factual coverage that can actually be fact-checked - again, this is based on a convention; not all journalistic conventions are bad. Journalists themselves tend to be somewhat blind to how the bad conventions cripple them, but they are often idealists who truly believe in the good conventions; who believe that a free press is important to democracy. The convention of newspapers printing corrections every single day is part of this; you'll not see fake news outlets printing corrections.

You can never be perfect, but you can do your best, or your worst. Mainstream journalists by and large try to do their best, while fake news outlets try to do their worst.
 
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  • #23
mheslep
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I just found a fairly good stab at a summary of sources, ...
Why do you consider that summary good or fair? I'm thinking the problem is that the label of "minimal partisan bias" is atop a hill with a steep gradient on all sides, with most of the media mass distributed to the left. None of the major networks belong on top, and certainly not the WaPo or NYT. They're not conspiratorial, but they are left and occasionally dabble in garbage. Reuters, WSJ news (not editorial) belongs near the top perhaps.
 
  • #24
mheslep
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Despite all that, mainstream outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, ... still manage to strive for factual coverage that can actually be fact-checked - .

In December 2008, while Obama was on vacation in Hawaii before inauguration, the WaPo printed the following on its front page:
...he [Obama] was photographed looking like the paradigm of a new kind of presidential fitness, one geared less toward preventing heart attacks than winning swimsuit competitions. The sun glinted off chiseled pectorals sculpted during four weightlifting sessions each week, and a body toned by regular treadmill runs and basketball games.

News desk rules that require dilligence do not excuse this tabloidism. WaPo is not a newspaper as I understand the term, not any longer, even if some news occasionally slips out.
 
  • #25
UsableThought
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In December 2008, while Obama was on vacation in Hawaii before inauguration, the WaPo printed the following on its front page:
...he [Obama] was photographed looking like the paradigm of a new kind of presidential fitness, one geared less toward preventing heart attacks than winning swimsuit competitions. The sun glinted off chiseled pectorals sculpted during four weightlifting sessions each week, and a body toned by regular treadmill runs and basketball games.

News desk rules that require dilligence do not excuse this tabloidism. WaPo is not a newspaper as I understand the term, not any longer, even if some news occasionally slips out.

I'm not sure why this bothers you. Here's the headline to the article: "As Duties Weigh Obama Down, His Faith in Fitness Only Increases." It's entirely to do with the almost excessive intensity of his fitness regimen, so although you have bolded "chiseled pectorals," the real point of the article was "four weightlifting sessions per week" and "treadmill runs and basketball games." You have basically cherry-picked the least important detail in the story while mistaking its intended point. It's not the best-written story in the world - the lead is so soft that you have to read pretty far before you find this point; but it finally does arrive, in the form of what in the business is called the "nut graf" (key paragraph):
The more Obama's life intensifies, friends said, the more he relies on the gym -- which is why he might be taking office in the best shape of his life. The gym is where he releases stress, maintains a routine and thinks without interruption. He sometimes wears headphones and barricades the outside world.

Of course I suppose you could object that a story about a president using physical fitness as a way of releasing stress & staying sane while holding an insanely demanding job is too much of what inside the business is called a "feature" (versus "hard news"); you may think that features are "fluff" and only hard news should be on the front page. However if you were to analyze all newspapers, including first-tier papers such as the LA Times, NY Times, and Wall Street Journal (well, I guess we're still saying the WSJ is first tier), you'd see that a feature on the front page has been routine for the past several decades at least. Also, it depends on what other stories are breaking on the given day - something must go on the front page to fill it up, and if there are not a lot of big breaking hard news stories that day, than a feature is more likely to show up than would be the case on busier days.

Of course it may also just be that you dislike Obama, although you haven't indicated that explicitly.

Anyway all this goes back to my two main points: 1) most folks who criticize newspapers for bias don't know much about how the business operates & what the conventions are and how those conventions dictate coverage; and 2) they ignore their own personal bias.
 
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  • #26
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I want to subscribe to a reputable news source (even if I have to pay). I want a news source that has not abandoned journalistic integrity . . .I live in the USA at the moment, by the way. So far I'm considering:
  • Giving NPR a bigger donation
  • Subscribing to Washington Post
  • Subscribing to New York Times
Does anybody have other suggestions?

@collinsmark - returning to your original query, here are my thoughts on your first three candidates, plus some suggestions for how to vet candidates:

Both the NYT and NPR are considered "liberal" news outfits, for reasons I'll get to shortly. By contrast Washington Post is not considered a liberal paper, but a relatively conservative paper: see Wikipedia for more. They've gone after Trump in part because 1) reporters love to scramble for scoops, and there were lots of scoops on the Trump beat (and will be for as long as we still have a free press), and 2) Trump attacked dyed-in-the-wool conservatives almost as much as he attacked liberals, & so conservative papers attacked back.

Now, what's a "liberal" paper vs. "conservative"? If you took blood samples for NPR reporters and WSJ reporters, you'd probably find that they were all tinged blue. That's because the majority of journalists do skew to liberal values - see for example this story in the Atlantic and the Indiana U. study it is based on. But if the reporters & editors at both outlets are similarly liberal, how can NPR be liberal but WSJ conservative? There are three answers here; and it's these three answers that can help you vet journalistic organizations in general: 1) the slant of their news coverage; 2) the slant of the editorial board & editorial pages; and 3) the slant of who owns them. Note that with only occasional exceptions, I am talking primarily about sources for what is called "hard news" or "breaking news," not sources of opinion on same. Also I'll stay away from TV news sources other than PBS, because I don't know much about national TV from the inside.

News coverage: The WSJ is conservative in the old Republican sense: it focuses primarily on business and investing, from the point of view of "what's good for business and investing is good for America." In covering politics, it will in a similar spirit focus on policy issues of concern to business. By contrast, liberal outlets such as NPR and the NYT cover many issues of interest only to persons with liberal values: "social justice," the environment, human rights, civil rights and race, etc. However NPR and the NYT also have massive business coverage, nearly as much as the WSJ; this is largely because business execs, office employees, and investors are among the most devoted subscribers to mainstream news sources. The only difference is that a paper such as the NYT has broader & more critical coverage of ethics in business and investing than does the WSJ; yet the WSJ doesn't totally eschew ethics coverage either. So liberal and conservative tend to converge when it comes to business, but diverge when it comes to coverage of liberal issues such as environment etc. In other words it's not that liberal news outfits slant their coverage of liberal issues; it's that they cover them at all.

Editorial pages: One thing that ordinary readers typically don't realize is that a paper's news coverage originates from persons who comprise what is called the "news room", while editorials & op eds originate from persons who comprise what is called "the editorial board." Two totally separate groups of people - they inhabit separate physical spaces & there is very much a firewall between them. Obviously the editorials & op-eds of the WSJ are slanted heavily towards very conservative values; but this does not mean that the WSJ's news stories betray an equal slant. For example you might see fewer stories about Trump's habitual lying in the WSJ, but what stories do appear will hew pretty closely to how such stories would be reported in the NYT. That's because reporters and news editors originate those stories - not the editorial board. (Note that I am excluding non-traditional online outfits such as the Huffington Post, where I suspect these two areas of responsibility mingle in a big way. You could not possibly call the HuffPo mainstream, but I suspect their more naive readers think of it that way. Personally I suspect HuffPo of excess liberal bias, making them unreliable as a primary news source.)

Ownership: Ownership gets to pick the editorial board & so has a big influence on editorials & op-eds; and ownership also controls the broad outlines of news coverage. For example, the Washington Post used to be very liberal under Phil Graham and his daughter Katherine; but after Katherine's death, the paper slowly became somewhat more conservative under the Graham family, a trend which seems to have continued under current owner Jeff Bezos (again, see Wikipedia). Meanwhile the NYT is publicly owned, but privately controlled: see Wikipedia for more. However the big thing to remember about even family ownership is that newspapers are first of all a business; and typically not very profitable compared to other industries. What do businesses want most of all? Stability, which means preservation of the status quo; and a tax and economic system that is reasonably favorable to them. Hence the real bias that I suspect may sneak even into what sorts of news coverage is encouraged or discouraged is a bias in favor of preserving the current environment of highly regulated capitalism in a pro-corporate environment, with a political system controlled by two major political parties who have the ability to shut out other nascent parties. You may have noticed that pretty much all newspapers & TV stations seem to consider that the only legitimate political parties are the Democrats & Republicans. This is not an accident; it is a favoring of the seemingly "safe" status quo. And it goes both ways, i.e. back when I was a reporter, government agencies & political parties alike would demand to see an official press badge before granting you access to an event. I've been out of the business a long time, but I suspect this is still the case today.

Some other suggestions:
  • What is considered news naturally varies somewhat by country, as do journalistic conventions to some degree. E.g. the U.S. and the U.K. differ somewhat, though not hugely; the U.K. and some countries in Europe differ hugely; Europe most likely differs from the Middle East; and so on. So one thing I would suggest is that you maintain not just the integrity of your news sources, but their diversity as well: The NYT, although excellent, may for example fail to cover important stories in certain countries, for whatever reason (possibly because these are uncomfortable for a paper in favor of the status quo in the U.S.); so also include the BBC and perhaps a news outlet or two based in the Middle East, Europe, etc.
  • One constant globally is the question of how free a press is and specifically how free reporters are to report what actually happens, without government interference or fear for their lives; there are organizations which track, this, e.g. Reporters Without Borders and a number of others. If you really care about the role of a free press in sustaining democracy, maybe you could identify one of these organizations to check in with once in a while, e.g. each year when they issue their annual report. Reporters Without Borders surveys relative press freedom in different countries, for example: https://rsf.org/en/ranking'
  • Also related to diversity: liberal news outlets are more willing to print at least some stories & op-eds that are openly critical of the U.S. (see for example this op-ed in the NYT on the CIA's role in destabilizing Chile in the 1970s, now relevant since Russia is trying to destabilize the U.S.). So if you don't have time to subscribe to a non-U.S. news source, but do value diversity when it comes to international coverage, you'd be far better off with a liberal outlet such as NPR or NYT than a conservative outlet such as Washington Post or WSJ.
  • Meanwhile, for domestic diversity, you might think of including at least one or two conservative outlets. Here I'd suggest subscribing to a respected conservative news/opinion magazine (e.g. a "weekly") rather than a daily paper as such, e.g. The National Review Online. Other good choices can be found in this survey article: Top 10 Conservative Magazines.
  • Another way to vet a news source is to ask, how much actual reporting do they generate? A big knock against the Huffington Post is, they rarely if ever break hard news stories; instead they repeat stories from those who broke them & embroider these repetitions with excess liberal sentiment. Given that by pretending to be a news source, rather than an opinion source, they are stealing readers from a relative handful of financially stressed companies (NYT for example) that nonetheless still pay their workers good money for live reporting, this to me is another mark against HuffPo. It takes a lot of money to pay for reporters who have even minimal training, and editors who can force reporters to follow the conventions & fact check and so forth. What HuffPo's official editorial standards are, I haven't checked up on; but they don't seem very high compared to WSJ, NYT, BBC, etc.
  • Also if you have time read up on journalistic conventions. For books, I highly recommend Bennett's "https://www.amazon.com/dp/0205082416/?tag=pfamazon01-20," 9th Ed., for a sobering analysis of the news industry's dependence on "official sources"; or for an admittedly biased but still interesting indictment of corporate ownership, you could look at Herman & Chomsky's "https://www.amazon.com/dp/0375714499/?tag=pfamazon01-20." For shorter pieces, Russell Baker's funny but sad reminiscent essay "Spring Before Swine" gives you the feel of how terribly these conventions come to grind on reporters who know better. And Wikipedia will give you a small start on one journalist convention - "objectivity," which is as flawed a concept as "justice" but still represents a major advance over mere partisanship : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journalistic_objectivity
 
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  • #27
mheslep
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I'm not sure why this bothers you...
I clearly stated my objection: tabloid jounalism, i.e. the lurid, which you are doing a lot of work to ignore. Features (fine), a larger valid angle (no excuse), my opinion of Obama; these are irrelevant.

SPJ Code of Ethics:
Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do.

The author is using lurid comment to signal how people should frame the topic, i.e. editorial comment on the front page.
 
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  • #28
mheslep
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The WSJ is conservative in the old Republican sense
WSJ news is obviously business oriented but their newsroom still leans left per studies.

"A Measure of Media Bias", QJE, 2005
We measure media bias by estimating ideological scores for several major media outlets. To compute this, we count the times that a particular media outlet cites various think tanks and policy groups, and then compare this with the times that members of Congress cite the same groups. Our results show a strong liberal bias: all of the news outlets we examine, except Fox News' Special Report and the Washington Times, received scores to the left of the average member of Congress. Consistent with claims made by conservative critics, CBS Evening News and the New York Times received scores far to the left of center. The most centrist media outlets were PBS NewsHour, CNN's Newsnight, and ABC's Good Morning America; among print outlets, USA Today was closest to the center. All of our findings refer strictly to news content; that is, we exclude editorials, letters, and the like.
The authors include the WSJ in their study.
http://m.qje.oxfordjournals.org/content/120/4/1191.short

contrast Washington Post is not considered a liberal paper, but a relatively conservative paper: see Wikipedia for more.
Yes it is liberal as per studies, see the Wikipedia article you cite for more.


Another wildly irresponsible WaPo article , January 2009:
...President Obama yesterday eliminated the most controversial tools employed by his predecessor against terrorism suspects. With the stroke of his pen, he effectively declared an end to the "war on terror," as President George W. Bush had defined it, signaling to the world that the reach of the U.S. government in battling its enemies will not be limitless...

The facts of that 2009 order are that Obama ended things like the Bush era interrogation orders. But Dana Priest says Obama ended the war on terror, only to be followed by 506 US drone attacks killing nearly 3400, and attacks in the the US like the 2013 Boston bombing during Obama's time in office. Me, I'd place that WaPo line in the Fake News category.
 
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