It’s called news value judgement and it’s a central journalism tenant. These are the “safeguards” that make the news, news. They’re also designed to require a story to pass multiple filters (i.e. editors) on their way to the public. If you’re a highly partisan site (i.e. Breitbart or Daily Kos), you’re not even bothering with this because your intention is to push your agenda by dressing up your propaganda as “news.”
You don’t need associations or peer reviews to determine “consensus” facts if a publisher is sticking to the basics of news-value judgement and has an editorial team keeping them honest.
The issue isn’t the “mainstream media” bias. It’s the assholes purposefully spreading disinformation with the intention of causing confusion and sowing discord.
Frequency: Events that occur suddenly and fit well with the news organization’s schedule are more likely to be reported than those that occur gradually or at inconvenient times of day or night. Long-term trends are not likely to receive much coverage.
Familiarity: To do with people or places close to home.
Negativity: Bad news is more newsworthy than good news.
Unexpectedness: If an event is out of the ordinary it will have a greater effect than something that is an everyday occurrence.
Unambiguity: Events whose implications are clear make for better copy than those that are open to more than one interpretation, or where any understanding of the implications depends on first understanding the complex background in which the events take place.
Personalization: Events that can be portrayed as the actions of individuals will be more attractive than one in which there is no such “human interest.”
Meaningfulness: This relates to the sense of identification the audience has with the topic. “Cultural proximity” is a factor here—stories concerned with people who speak the same language, look the same, and share the same preoccupations as the audience receive more coverage than those concerned with people who speak different languages, look different and have different preoccupations.
Reference to elite nations: Stories concerned with global powers receive more attention than those concerned with less influential nations.
Reference to elite persons: Stories concerned with the rich, powerful, famous and infamous get more coverage.
Conflict: Opposition of people or forces resulting in a dramatic effect. Stories with conflict are often quite newsworthy.
Consonance: Stories that fit with the media’s expectations receive more coverage than those that defy them (and for which they are thus unprepared). Note this appears to conflict with unexpectedness above. However, consonance really refers to the media’s readiness to report an item.
Continuity: A story that is already in the news gathers a kind of inertia. This is partly because the media organizations are already in place to report the story, and partly because previous reportage may have made the story more accessible to the public (making it less ambiguous).
Composition: Stories must compete with one another for space in the media. For instance, editors may seek to provide a balance of different types of coverage, so that if there is an excess of foreign news for instance, the least important foreign story may have to make way for an item concerned with the domestic news. In this way the prominence given to a story depends not only on its own news values but also on those of competing stories. (Galtung and Ruge, 1965)
Competition: Commercial or professional competition between media may lead journalists to endorse the news value given to a story by a rival.
Co-optation: A story that is only marginally newsworthy in its own right may be covered if it is related to a major running story.
Prefabrication: A story that is marginal in news terms but written and available may be selected ahead of a much more newsworthy story that must be researched and written from the ground up.
Predictability: An event is more likely to be covered if it has been pre-scheduled. (Bell, 1991)
Time constraints: Traditional news media such as radio, television and daily newspapers have strict deadlines and a short production cycle, which selects for items that can be researched and covered quickly.
Logistics: Although eased by the availability of global communications even from remote regions, the ability to deploy and control production and reporting staff, and functionality of technical resources can determine whether a story is covered. (Schlesinger, 1987)
Data: Media need to back up all of their stories with data in order to remain relevant and reliable. Reporters prefer to look at raw data in order to be able to take an unbiased perspective.