Taking the bias out of media by displaying the bias within the media
BRINGING MEDIA BACK TO ITS CORE SOURCES. While many can relate to feeling frustrated and alarmed by how people argued about politics during the 2016 American election cycle, Vanessa Otero decided to do something truly inventive and unique in response.
“In particular, it was wild and uncomfortable to see how people used different news sites to discredit other news sites. And in really strange ways that weren’t at all accurate or helpful. So I decided it would be helpful to create an image that showcased how some news sources were truly better than others based on truth and bias.”
Which led Vanessa to create the Media Bias Chart™, a unique way of laying out the complex media landscape in two dimensions: news value and reliability, on the vertical axis, and bias, on the horizontal axis. And within a few days it became legitimately viral online.
“By 2018, I knew there was a business opportunity here, because not only was this something that didn’t exist before, it was disrupting the entire way new media saw itself outside of opinion polls and viewership. It needed to move past a passion project and into something truly standalone and verifiable as a venture.” This led to the founding of Ad Fontes Media, Inc., a company whose mission is to make news consumers smarter and news media better by developing tools and products that help media outlets, organizations, and individuals navigate the complex media landscape, as well as provide comprehensive content analysis of media sources themselves.
CLEARING OUT THE CHAOS. “I was an English major in college before going to law school to become a patent lawyer, which required me to have a science background. I loved my job. I liked writing patents. It gave me an exposure to inventors, entrepreneurs and the start-up community. Coupled with that, I personally always had a passion for politics and general civic analysis. I know from afar it all seems so disconnected, but every element of my life led me to Ad Fontes.”
This is because at the core of everything Vanessa loves and explores personally and professionally is attached to a passion for analysis and critical interpretation. Literature, law, science, and politics; all of these elements were intersecting at once in her mind when she witnessed the onslaught of online chaos and confusion brought on by social media and news media influences.
As a Filipina-American, lesbian woman, the perspective of allowing something to be seen for what it is and how it was intented isn’t lost on Vanessa. “I grew up in a very privileged situation given my identity; middle class with loving parents, and access to great education. But I know that for others, all sorts of other people, their experiences and exposures are different. It’s not hard to get disenfranchised in a community without the right balance or exposure. And often that’s a luxury.”
“Understanding what it means to have unbiased media and news is a really unique space to plant my flag, but I like building bridges. I like being nonpartisan. I like leveling the playing field so more people can make informed decisions. How else will we ever clear out the chaos?”