Thanks to the ongoing culture war in the United States, spotting media bias is easier than ever. As someone who works in right-wing media, I read articles by liberal and progressive reporters in the Massachusetts media landscape and right-wing reporters in alternative media. Interestingly, though, the level of bias may vary from reporter to reporter at any given publication, and word choice is an easy giveaway.
When reading a mainstream publication in Massachusetts, I typically assume the reporter has a liberal bias for a few reasons. One is that I went to journalism school, and nearly all my peers and professors were progressives. Another is media bias analysts, including Media Bias/Fact Check, often rate mainstream media outlets in the state as having a center-left bias. Some examples include: The Boston Globe, The Daily Hampshire Gazette, NECN and WHDH. Word choice also matters and makes it easier to understand bias on unfamiliar topics written in unfamiliar publications. If I must read something written on some small publication from Idaho, having a shortcut to determine the bias of the content helps me contextualize it.
For example, some reporters use the phrase "pregnant people" (or, less commonly, "birthing people") instead of "pregnant women." The phrase is arguably the easiest way to let the audience know they’ew liberal or progressive. I believe only women are capable of becoming pregnant. The phrase "pregnant people" implies my assertion is wrong. It tells you the reporter or publication thinks groups other than women experience pregnancies, whether men or something else, presumably a gender identity other than male or female. That means the author thinks more than two genders exist, a belief not held by most Americans. For the record, most publications, regardless of their bias, still use "pregnant women," so if you find a reporter using "pregnant people," they’re woker than average.
Immigration is another area where the political divide in media becomes apparent. Right-wing publications are likely the only places these days where you will find reporters using terms like "illegal immigrant," "illegal alien" and "illegals.”
Someone from a policy institute, who lists his pronouns, emailed to tell me that my use of terms like "illegals and "illegal immigrants" in an article I interviewed him for was "quite harmful." He sent me some links so I could educate myself on the topic. Meanwhile, The Associated Press stylebook tells reporters to call illegal immigrants "undocumented immigrants." I dislike the term "undocumented" since illegal immigrants often have documentation. They need to provide foreign documentation to obtain driver's licenses in Massachusetts.
Some publications opt for more liberal terms like "residents without legal status" and "immigrants without legal status." Some liberal publications refer to them as "taxpaying immigrants" or "immigrants," depending on the context. Illegal immigrants use far more taxpayer resources than they contribute, so "taxpaying immigrants" makes little sense.
While the immigration language debate involves Latin Americans, so does another divide between liberal/progressive journalists and everyone else. A typical publication, regardless of its media bias, may refer to these people as Latinos, Latinas, Latin Americans, or Hispanics. A strong liberal or progressive might opt for the trendier "Latinx" instead. The Spanish language uses gendered nouns. Fewer than five percent of Latin Americans use the term "Latinx," so any journalist using it is using it for points.
The New York Post or NewBostonPost may not feature articles about pregnant Latinx people, but right-wing publications have a unique word regarding transgender issues: transgenderism. The term emphasizes that the author or publication thinks of the issue more as an ideology or belief system; it may indicate that the author/publication doesn’r believe changing genders can happen.
Odds are, people who use transgenderism will not refer to Caitlyn Jenner as "she" in an article. They may go for "he," or, more likely, will avoid using pronouns when referring to Jenner. Instead, they may use "Jenner," "the former Olympian," "the Olympic gold medalist," "the reality television star," "the former Wheaties spokesman," "the former decathlon star," or something of the sort. Next time you read an article that touches on these topics, look closely at the language the reporter uses. It’ll help you determine their bias without much effort.