Analyzing Periodicals for Bias
Is there such a thing as unbiased writing?
What methods can you use to investigate authors, periodicals or publishers?
Journalists are asked to answer these questions when writing an article:
Who? What? Where? When? Why? So What? We can ask the same questions about the magazines, newspaper and journals that they publish in.
- edits the periodical?
- contributes articles?
- are the subjects of their articles?
What is the…
- generational perspective?
- is the periodical published?
- What area does it cover?
- was the periodical founded?
- How often is it published?
- Do they have a mission statement on the masthead or web-site?
- Can you find anything written about the periodical or its editor on the web or in other periodicals?
- Would you need to find an opposing viewpoint to balance an article found in this periodical?
- What other periodical would have the opposing viewpoint?
- Can you use a reference or circulating book to find a wider range of opinion represented?
- Are these books also pushing an agenda?
Places to find information on a periodical:
- Corporate website (Google it, or find the website in the paper copy).
- Database website (put periodical title in our catalog search box and follow the hyperlink to the periodical in a database)
- Paper copy of periodical in the table of contents page or masthead.
- Investigate the author in a database like ProQuest or Academic Research Premier as “person” (as opposed to “title” or “author” in the drop down box).
- Investigate the author or the editor on the Web through Google, Google Scholar, or Wikipedia to get a quick idea of their standing in the community.
- Investigate the author or the editor in an encyclopedia of their discipline in the library’s Reference section or in online Reference books.
(Based on a guide by Lisa Polfer)