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Epistemology is the study of truth and knowledge in the context of philosophy. And when writing about philosophy and politics and religion and all the things I do, I need to ensure that my sources are as reliable as possible. Of course, this should be paramount for everyone the world over.

As my regular readers will know, I use The Guardian a fair bit as a source of news reporting. Critics will claim I do so because its bias aligns with my liberal worldview. I will admit that this no doubt plays a part. Those confirmation biases are strong and difficult to overcome, though at least I am aware of them operating under the hood.

In defence of the paper and my choice to use it is that the journalism is good and it has been deemed the most reliable, often only coming second to The Financial Times (whose remit is different, being mainly about business). This was the case in 2005, 2014, 2017, (rated very highly in the US, too, in 2017), and so on. There’s a lot more data out there than I have linked.

Most reliability data and trust comes from surveying the readership, and so this allows for some criticism. I rate the Pew Research Center, and use their data and reporting an awful lot. Therefore, when they cast their eyes over reliability in print journalism, I take their views seriously. They have just conducted some pan-European work to find that The Guardian remains the most trusted print news source. Unsurprisingly, the Daily Mail appeals more to older people in terms of reliability. Again, this is a case of perceptions. I would love to see an objective analysis of reliability.

You can look at things like complaints, but this turns out to be a bit of a problem because some newspapers are “regulated” by IPSO, and others not. The Guardian and Observer, Financial Times, Evening Standard and Independent titles have so far not signed up to IPSO, which replaced the Press Complaints Commission in September 2014, or to alternative press regulator Impress. Instead, these titles have opted to regulate themselves.

What is interesting here is that those newspapers who have chosen to self-regulate are always the top for reliability (The Evening Standard aside).

I also use the BBC a lot, and that tops every piece of research for reliability, including those linked above.

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...