Visual storytelling strategies of Finnish news media on Instagram

Our research project investigates the presence of the Finnish news media outlets on Instagram. We are interested in the media organizations’ visual storytelling strategies and motivations for producing visual content to Instagram.

One motivation for this study is the fact that the young generations increasingly get their news via social media and therefore, the news media organisations have also increasingly started to produce news content for different social media platforms. We chose Instagram as our object of study, because according to our preliminary mapping, Instagram is widely used among the 16 to 29-year-olds in Finland and most Finnish news media organisations publish content on Instagram.

For researching the visual storytelling strategies, we will apply quantitative and qualitative content analysis of the Instagram postings of 38 Finnish news media user accounts including public broadcasters and national, regional and local newspapers in addition to a few news magazines. At this point, we have 381 Instagram postingns in our data. Our sampling period is all postings from the selected accounts during a two-week period from October 2022.​ We plan to take another two-week period in the spring 2023 to avoid circumstantial effects that could be associated with a specific period.​ For examining the motivations and aims of the media professionals, we will also conduct interviews with the social media professionals from the studied media houses.

Earlier research has found that social media platforms such as the TikTok have resulted that media organisations have adapted their content to the platform in terms of, for example, the aesthetics and form of the news (Vázquez-Herrero et al. 2020). We are interested in finding out whether this has happened also with the Finnish news media on Instagram. In addition, we are eager to be able to compare our case to the earlier findings about Instagram stories as new kinds of short-term, visual news (Vázquez-Herrero ym. 2019), the implications of photo editing and filters typically used on Instagram to the authenticity ideal of journalism (Borges-Rey 2015) and effects of Instagram’s “positiveness” to the news values (Al-Rawi et al. 2021).

From earlier research, we have also found a starting point for our quantitative content analysis. We will apply and develop a coding schema developed by Vázquez-Herrero and colleagues (2020) for studying news on TikTok.

Funding: C.V. Åkerlund Media Foundation

Duration of the project: 09/2022-03/2024


Jenni Mäenpää

Jenni Mäenpää

Saara-Maija Kallio