Emotion Mobilisation through the Imagery of People in Finnish-Language Right-Wing Alternative Media

Salla Tuomola, Karin Wahl-Jorgensen

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Right-wing populists’ online communication relies heavily on images and their emotional appeal. In this article, we study how images of human actors are deployed to engender emotions in their viewers in an example of Finnish-language right-wing alternative media—MV-lehti. We focus on three news cases in the publication’s immigration coverage over 2015–2017. We understand emotions as part of a larger societal meaning-making process that is consciously, culturally and socially produced. Using methods of visual content analysis and critical close reading, we find that the most exclusionary emotions evident in the imagery of people are fear, disgust, hate and distrust. Through these negative emotions, each group of people is represented as a scapegoat for the “distress of ordinary people.” By excluding these groups from “us,” MV-lehti identifies them as representations of Otherness. This goes hand in hand with a distinctive populist style arguing that society is separated into two antagonistic groups—“the pure people” versus “the corrupt elite.”.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-79
JournalDigital Journalism
Issue number1
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • emotions
  • immigration coverage
  • visual communication
  • people
  • populist style
  • recontextualised news
  • Right-wing alternative media

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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