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AllSides

Website review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
AllSides Website Poster Image
In-depth info can help readers evaluate media coverage.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about current events, political leanings, and what makes news coverage impartial. They'll find out how various media sources covered the same event, and information on free speech, education, and other topics -- along with definitions of politically charged terms -- is provided. AllSides encourages kids to investigate perspectives and may inform them about new geographic areas. There aren't too many interactive or visually dynamic elements; kids will basically just be reading text. But the site offers numerous learning opportunities -- and kids can take advantage of many of them without needing assistance from an adult.

Positive Messages

The site was created to provide balanced, impartial news coverage, which can help kids understand the world around them and decide how they feel about topics without outside influence.

Violence

Kids can find articles about violence in America that mention mass shootings and other murders. Because items come from a variety of news sources, some may offer details kids find upsetting, and some many not offer much description of the events.

Sex

A section that deals with sexual misconduct lists articles that include information about sexual abuse, and some could potentially contain explicit details, but the coverage is meant to inform, not sensationalize the issue.

Language

Some articles the site links to contain swear words, and occasionally headlines that could come up in searches on AllSides do, too.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A section deals with marijuana legalization, but the coverage doesn't support a particular viewpoint.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that AllSides is a news site that doesn't actuallly produce its own news coverage. The site analyzes and links to various media outlets' work, so although some of the subject matter can touch on mature themes like sexual assault and marijuana use being legalized, kids shouldn't come across anything they wouldn't see when reading general news coverage of the topic. Keeping with the site's anti-bias theme, they won't see a lot of ads, and they're encouraged to examine different sides of an issue, analyze news more closely than they might have in the past, and come up with their own opinion. They may see some swearing, if a news outlet has published a headline with one in it -- and some of the less traditional web-based outlets have. But this isn't so widespread that kids would come across much adult language on the site.

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What's it about?

ALLSIDES aims to provide diverse perspectives and a balanced take on news. Many items, according to the site, involve political issues. Information is offered on topics like nuclear weapons, the environment, and healthcare. Media bias ratings are provided for nearly 600 media outlets. News items are labeled as being left, center, or right of the political spectrum, and kids can use a tool to gauge their bias on issues. A dictionary also lists definitions for controversial terms like abortion and fascism snd further discusses any associated connotations.

Is it any good?

This news analysis site attempts to offer a thorough assessment of recent media coverage -- and essentially succeeds at that goal. AllSides factors several elements into its media outlet bias ratings, including blind bias surveys, in which readers review articles without knowing where they came from, third-party research, and, just in case the site's rating system is off, it also considers community feedback. For that last option, someone has to physically change the ratings, so people shouldn't be able to skew the outcome by repeatedly agreeing or disagreeing here. In addition, reviews may be labeled with a low, initial, medium, or high confidence rating, based on how many methods were applied, along with the strength and consistency of the data involved.

The site's rating system isn't perfect -- AllSides makes it clear that it, too, approaches coverage with some level of bias. Kids should also be aware the site's analysis solely involves online reporting, not broadcast or other print coverage, and they won't find analysis of every article or topic they come across on news sites. Some users may initially question what specific criteria AllSides uses to assess media outlets -- that information isn't exactly front-and-center. They can, though, find a description if they click through to a secondary page and do some scrolling. In addition to that information, kids will also find plenty of items to read on the site that provide a comprehensive look at how some events and subjects are being presented. Individual news-based items feature side-by-side takes on a topic from what the site considers to be more left- or right-based sources, and a center-oriented outlet -- which the site says either doesn't show much bias or largely portrays both sides equally. Further analysis is also provided in the site's blog. Generally, AllSides does a stellar job of breaking issues down, and the site's content should, at the very least, cause kids to think about how news is presented -- and how that can affect their opinion.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the difference between a reliable news source -- and an unsubstantiated source. How can kids determine if an article is legitimate?

  • Can your child explain why a recent statement from a source is definitely an accurate statement? Can a comment be inaccurate, even if the person making it is in a position of authority? (View our News and Media Literacy Guide for more information.)

  • Talk with your child about the effect news coverage can have. What positive and negative ways might an article influence different people?

Website details

  • Subjects: Language & Reading: forming arguments, reading, reading comprehension, text analysis, using supporting evidence
    Social Studies: citizenship, cultural understanding, events, geography, global awareness, government, power structures, the economy
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, applying information, investigation, part-whole relationships, thinking critically
    Self-Direction: personal growth
  • Genre: Educational
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Last updated: August 28, 2019

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