by Sharon Rondeau
(Oct. 6, 2019) — On Sunday morning, reader Robert Laity advised us of a website calling itself “mediabias/factcheck” (MBFC) containing an entry for “The Post and Email” claiming that the website is on the “extreme” and of “right bias,” it does not “source” its information “well,” and that its “factual reporting” is “mixed.”
An original review of The Post & Email, the website states, is dated August 23, 2016, with an update issued on February 25, 2017.
MBFC contains a disclaimer stating that its information “is for general information purposes only and is the opinion of individual reviewers for Media Bias/Fact Check. The opinions expressed on Media Bias/Fact Check are protected under “Fair Comment.” The information is provided by Media Bias/Fact Check (MBFC News) and while we endeavor to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness or accuracy of opinions/information on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.“
The owner is Dave Van Zandt, who reports he is employed in the health care field but has been a media observer “over the years.” The website says it gathers some of its “fact checks” and news articles from the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN).
When determining bias, there isn’t any true scientific formula that is 100% objective. There are objective measures that can be calculated, but ultimately there will be some degree of subjective judgement to determine these. On each page we have put up a scale with a yellow dot that shows the degree of bias for each source. Each page also has a “detailed report” section that gives some details about the source and an explanation of their bias. When calculating bias we are not just looking at political bias, but also how factual the information is and if they provide links to credible, verifiable sources. Therefore, the yellow dot may indicate political bias or how factual a source is, or in many cases, both.
The organization accepts recommendations from the public on “sources.”
To the question, “Are your ratings objective?” the website responds:
All sources are rated objectively using our methodology which calculates a score. However, every source on this website has been reviewed by a human being, who certainly does have bias. This means that a different reviewer using our methodology may come up with a slightly different score. Our testing has concluded that people from different political affiliations have similar scores once they understand how to apply the methodology. So, the answer is ratings are somewhat subjective.
To the question, “Why do you have more Right Wing sources listed?” the response is:
The first 500 or so sources reviewed were picked by the reviewers and were mostly balanced. The last 2000+ sources added have been submitted by users. We have found that right wing sites are submitted for review more. Significantly more! We review what we get. We would love to have more left wing sites submitted for review to provide more balance. Further, prior to and after the election of 2016 there was an explosion of fake right wing websites, many of which originate in the country of Macedonia. We have added several hundred of these sites to our questionable list, which leads to far more right wing sites being listed at this time.
After reviewing MediaBiasFactCheck at length and its rating of The Post & Email’s editor/owner contacted website personnel through its online form and by emailing its editor directly, stating:
Hello, I am owner/editor of The Post & Email, an online newspaper which you have rated as possessing “extreme” right-leaning media bias.
First of all, you have expressed our company name incorrectly. Rather than using the word “and,” there should be an “&.”
Further, you claim, without evidence, that we do not “source well.” On what is that statement based, and on what do you base your qualifications to make such a determination? I consider the statements defamatory and may consider taking further steps to correct it given that all of our articles are extremely heavily-sourced to firsthand accounts and eyewitnesses, mainstream media reporting, court transcripts and judicial opinions, and to statements from the government itself. We often publish documents we receive from government entities and always note when they are unresponsive to our attempts to obtain information or comment to obtain both sides of a story.
Some examples are:
Despite your disclaimer, I would appreciate a response and corrective action to my complaint seeing as your statement about sourcing is completely untrue. You might not care for our content, but that does not mean that we do not do our due diligence.
Sharon Rondeau, Editor
The Post & Email
P.O. Box 113
Canterbury, CT 06331-0113
At 11:41 a.m., we received a response from Van Zandt:
Thanks for the information. We will absolutely re-review the website. The current review was done a few years ago in our old format. We will update it accordingly.
Dave Van Zandt
Owner/Editor in Chief
Media Bias Fact Check LLC
The Post & Email then responded: