Other Group

Ad Fontes Media

Website:

adfontesmedia.com/

Location:

Denver, CO

Type:

Media Watchdog

Formation:

2018

CEO:

Vanessa Otero

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Ad Fontes Media (AFM) analyzes media bias and accuracy. It is best known for its Media Bias Chart, which originates from a graphic designed by its founder and CEO, Vanessa Otero. As of August 2023, AFM has about 75 employees. 1

“Ad fontes” means “to the source” in Latin. 2

History

Ad Fontes Media was founded and is led by Vanessa Otero, a former patent attorney. In 2016, Otero made an online graphic identifying the left- or right-wing bias of media organizations that would eventually serve as the basis for AFM’s Media Bias Chart. The graphic, which was created after Otero witnessed a political debate on Facebook between her friends, went viral with millions of views after she posted it on her blog, All Generalizations Are False. 3 4 5

Otero updated the chart over the following years and received more media attention. In 2018, she told MarketWatch: “I think the extremes are very toxic and damaging to the country… These extreme sources play on people’s worst instincts, like fear and tribalism, and take advantage of people’s confirmation biases.” 6

In 2018, Otero founded AFM with the Media Bias Chart as its centerpiece. Soon after, she launched a fundraising campaign on crowdsourcing website Indiegogo to finance the development of a more comprehensive Media Bias Chart based on the work of dedicated analysts. The campaign aimed to raise $50,000 but ended with $32,112. 7 8

Media Bias Chart

Ad Fontes Media publishes a free Media Bias Chart, with a premium interactive version for sale, that rates media sources on their degree of left- and right-wing bias, as well as their reporting accuracy. The chart has a strong trend of rating more politically neutral sources as more accurate. As of August 2023, the AFM rates Reuters and the Wall Street Journal as the most accurate outlets, and Natural News and Before It’s News as the least accurate sources. The chart generally rates right-leaning news outlets as less accurate than left-leaning outlets. 9 10 11

AFM founder Vanessa Otero says the Media Bias Chart has received criticism from the left and right: “A lot of people on the left will call us neoliberal shills, and then a bunch of people that are on the right are like, ‘Oh, you guys are a bunch of leftists yourselves.’” 12

AFM’s website concedes that the Media Bias Chart is itself biased: “Everyone and everything is biased.” 13

Services

Ad Fontes Media provides paid services to individuals, educators, and businesses. Services include an interactive Media Bias Chart, a database with in-depth analysis of news sources, workshops, and consulting. AFM also provides analyses designed for advertisers concerned about partnering with biased or misinformation-promoting media outlets. 14 15

Customers

Ad Fontes Media’s customers have included Meta (Facebook), Twitter, LinkedIn, Comscore, Sightly, Zignal Labs, Oxford Road, Newsela, 16 media agency UM, and Interpublic Group of Cos. 17

Funding

In addition to an early Indiegogo campaign, Ad Fontes Media has used the crowdfunding website WeFunder. ITs first funding drive raised about $350,000. During its last funding drive in October 2022, AFM raised almost $600,000. 18

In July 2023, AFM announced it had received $4.2 million in Series A funding primarily from Aion Ventures and the New Community Transformation Fund—Denver. The new funds would go toward expanding the group’s operations into India and Brazil and brought AFM’s total investment level up to $6 million. 19

References

  1. “Ad Fontes Media Team.” Ad Fontes Media. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://adfontesmedia.com/team/.
  2. “Ad Fontes Media.” LinkedIn. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://www.linkedin.com/company/adfontesmedia/.
  3. Byrde Litte, Hannah. “Media Literacy A Moving Target.” Education Resources Information Center. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1190639.pdf.
  4. Peck, Andrea. “A Boulder Lawyer Wants to Help You Become a Smarter News Consumer.” 5280.com. June 2019. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://www.5280.com/a-boulder-lawyer-wants-to-help-you-become-a-smarter-news-consumer/.
  5. Sheridan, Jake. “Should you trust media bias charts?” Poynter. November 2, 2021. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://www.poynter.org/fact-checking/media-literacy/2021/should-you-trust-media-bias-charts/.
  6. Langlois, Shawn. “How biased is your news source? You probably won’t agree with this news source.” MarketWatch. April 21, 2018. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-biased-is-your-news-source-you-probably-wont-agree-with-this-chart-2018-02-28.
  7. Thomas, Evans. “This Map Can Help Navigate The Partisan Media Landscape.” Scripps News. December 28, 2018. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://scrippsnews.com/stories/the-media-bias-chart-organizes-the-political-news-landscape/.
  8. “Media Bias Chart: The Next Level.” Indiegogo. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/media-bias-chart-the-next-level#/.
  9. “Static Media Bias Chart.” Ad Fontes Media. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://adfontesmedia.com/static-mbc/.
  10. “Interactive Media Bias Chart.” Ad Fontes Media. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://adfontesmedia.com/interactive-media-bias-chart/.
  11. “Methodology.” Ad Fontes Media. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://adfontesmedia.com/how-ad-fontes-ranks-news-sources/.
  12. Sheridan, Jake. “Should you trust media bias charts?” Poynter. November 2, 2021. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://www.poynter.org/fact-checking/media-literacy/2021/should-you-trust-media-bias-charts/.
  13. “Methodology.” Ad Fontes Media. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://adfontesmedia.com/how-ad-fontes-ranks-news-sources/.
  14. Graham, Megan. “Media Veteran Lou Paskalis Joins Group to Encourage Brands to Advertise on News.” Wall Street Journal. April 5, 2023. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://www.wsj.com/articles/media-veteran-lou-paskalis-joins-group-to-encourage-brands-to-advertise-on-news-8ba7f363.
  15. “Pricing and Services.” Ad Fontes Media. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://adfontesmedia.com/pricing-services/.
  16. “We rate news for reliability and bias to positively transform the media.” WeFunder. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://wefunder.com/ad.fontes.media.
  17. Graham, Megan. “Media Veteran Lou Paskalis Joins Group to Encourage Brands to Advertise on News.” Wall Street Journal. April 5, 2023. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://www.wsj.com/articles/media-veteran-lou-paskalis-joins-group-to-encourage-brands-to-advertise-on-news-8ba7f363.
  18. “We rate news for reliability and bias to positively transform the media.” WeFunder. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://wefunder.com/ad.fontes.media.
  19. Vargas, Anthony. “Ad Fontes Raises $4.2 Million To Confront Misinformation and Bias in Media.” Ad Exchanger. July 12, 2023. Accessed August 5, 2023. https://www.adexchanger.com/brand-safety/ad-fontes-raises-4-2-million-to-confront-misinformation-and-bias-in-media/.
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Ad Fontes Media


Denver, CO