How do I determine the political slant of a newspaper or magazine?

This is a hard question to answer for a number of reasons. Judging the political slant of a publication can be somewhat subjective. Such a judgment can be influenced by the political views of the person making the judgment. Thus, someone who was extremely conservative might judge a particular periodical to be very liberal while an extreme liberal might judge the same periodical to be quite moderate or centrist in its views. Also political slant can change over time as publishers and editors come and go and as their own views change. Given these difficulties, it might be wise to check more than one source to determine the political slant of a newspaper or magazine and to note the publication year of the source. The following sources should help. Click here for a selected list of publications generally considered to be liberal or conservative and click here for a list of blogs that give liberal, conservative and mixed viewpoints on a variety of issues.

Excellent historical information about both popular and scholarly periodicals.

  1. The publication itself: check the covers and the pages at the beginning and end of the magazine or newspaper to see if there is any information about the editorial policy of the publication.
  2. World press encyclopedia PN 4735 .W61 – for older, 1982 edition, which is on the 4th floor of the South stacks in the Graduate Library. Good source for information on the political slant of international newspapers. The entry for each country will generally give a history of publishing and freedom of the press in the country. The entry includes the names of the major newspapers and general interest periodicals in the country with circulation figures and information about the political slant of the publications. There is also information about news agencies and broadcast media.
  3. The media in America (Ref P 92 .U5 H65 1995) Graduate Library Reference Room on the second floor A dictionary of people, publications and concepts important in a historical study of the media in America . Includes the most major newspapers and popular periodicals in the United States . Best for information on the historical political slant of a publication but sometimes includes information on the more current political slant.
  4. Magazines for libraries (Ref Z 6941 .K19 2000) Graduate Library Reference Room on the second floor Includes the titles considered most basic to a subject area by the subject expert covering that field. Individual annotations cover the “purpose, scope, and audience of the periodicals, and most of them reflect some value judgment“ (p. x). Publications are arranged by subject category but the subject index includes some other useful categories such as “Leftist publications” and “Libertarian opinion.” Also in the subject index under “News and opinion” there are helpful subheadings such as “conservative viewpoint” and “feminist viewpoint.” Includes a small selection of newspapers and most of these annotations say nothing about political slant. The names, position titles, and institutions are listed for each subject expert.
  5. From radical left to extreme right: a bibliography of current periodicals of protest, controversy, advocacy or dissent, with dispassionate content – summaries to guide librarians and other educators. (Z 7165 .U5 M96 1987) Graduate Library stacks on 2 North. Older editions for 1967 and 1970 are also available. Attempted to include the majority of the important political periodicals of the time. Chapters are arranged by political slant, for example, Radical Left, Marxist-Socialist Left, etc. Individual reviewers seem to be using their own judgment as well as information from each publication to judge political slant. There is no information on the reviewers' backgrounds.
  6. Annotations: a guide to the independent critical press. (Ref PN 4784 .U53 A5651 2004) Graduate Library Reference Room on the second floor. There is also a 1999 edition available in the stacks on 4 South. Includes “titles that were either indexed in the Alternative Press Index or were active members of the Independent Press Association as of Fall 1998.” Gives general readership characteristics as well as more detailed descriptions of the publications. This information comes from each publication and its staff. Titles are arranged alphabetically and the subject index is very broad so it is not possible to find, for instance, all the conservative titles without checking each description.
  7. A history of American magazines 1741-1930. (Ref PN 4877 .M92 1958) Graduate Library Reference Room on the second floor.
  8. The left guide: a guide to left-of-center organizations (Ref HS 2321 .L44) and The right guide: a guide to conservative and right-of-center organizations (Ref HS 2321 .R54) Graduate Library Reference Room on the second floor Although older publications (1996 and 1993, respectively), these directories each include a section listing periodicals produced by the organizations listed. 
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Last modified: 06/13/2013