Cyber-elections 2015 – a big data study on the agenda around the Finnish Parliamentary Elections 2015

The research project analyzes the use of the digital media and agenda setting processes in the Finnish parliamentary elections in 2015. The study builds on political science and communication studies by combining normalization hypothesis with agenda building research.

The theoretical starting point is the normalization hypothesis formulated within political studies. This hypothesis suggests that the practices in online media will be formed and transformed by the practices in offline media. In this project, the question of normalization is combined with the theorizing about agenda setting and agenda building, as we ask who defines the digital agenda around the elections. Is the agenda normalized in traditional media, social media or in voting advice applications?

Our approach is strongly interdisciplinary. Computational social science and big data methods are conjoined with online ethnography to produce scientific knowledge of the online public sphere and human behavior. Our aim is to shed light to the ways different news and conversations topics are formed in and between different types of media.  Simultaneously our aim is to lay foundations for new approaches to conduct cross-disciplinary big data studies in the future.

The project partners are Digital Content Communities group at HIIT, Aalto and the Communication Research Center at University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Science. The project is funded by Helsingin Sanomat Foundation. The project is led by Senior Research Scientist Marko Turpeinen (HIIT) and Director Mikko VIlli (CRC).

The project runs from 1.1.2015 to 31.3.2016.

Media Strategies: Decision-makers, lobbyists and journalism

The project analyses the media and lobbying strategies of the most significant decision makers and their affiliates in Finland. Media management has become an important part of the activities of political parties, private companies, interest groups and non-governmental organizations. At the same time, new actors and practices are emerging in the fields of public relations and lobbying.

The research project uses (i) media analysis to see how Finnish decision makers use journalism in managing their reputations and constructing their images and (ii) interviews to determine the most prominent and skilful professionals of media management and public relations in Finland and what kind of strategies they use to influence media and journalism.

The project is carried out in the Department of Social Research at the University of Helsinki. It is closely connected to the European research networks and is involved in a Nordic project that carries out comparative research in the PR field of Nordic countries. The duration of the project is from August 2012 through the end of 2014.

Researchers: Adjunct Professor, Dr Anu Kantola (research director),

Research Fellow, Dr Lotta Lounasmeri,

Funding: Helsingin Sanomat FoundationFinnish Cultural Foundation 

Media2: The Media game of the future

Media2 research project aims to find out how audiences’ emotional, mental images of media corporations and their brands affect media consumption decisions. In addition, the project will study to what extent the competitive advantage of media corporations can be explained by their emotional reputation when competing on market share and paying customers.

Further, the project will look into the possibilities offered by psychophysiological research methods to the evaluation of media companies and the content they produce; we are combining communication and sociological research to psychophysiological measurements, the latter of which will give detailed information on the unconscious emotional and motivational processes related to consumption decisions. Our empirical goal is to analyze the ways media corporate reputation is communicated and mediated  in consumption situations and to build emotional profiles for media consumers based on our measurements and user  interviews.

Our research setting is based on the hypothesis that emotional experiences and the actions and decisions they mediate have a significant effect on the willingness of media consumers to use the free and pay services offered by a certain media company.

Media2 project is a joint collaboration between Communication Research Centre (CRC) at University of Helsinki, Centre for Knowledge and Innovation Research (CKIR) at Aalto University School of Economics and Institutions and Social Mechanisms (IASM) at University of Turku.

Project duration: 1.1.2010 – 31.12.2012

The project is funded by Helsingin Sanomat Foundation.

More information in the project blog (in english)

Contact person at CRC:
Pekka Aula
pekka.aula at
Tel. +358-9-191 24918

Youth Street Politics in the Media Age: Helsinki and London Compared

The aim of the ‘Youth Street Politics in the Media Age’ project is to study the construction of youth-related social problems in contemporary societies where the media plays an increasing role in constructing and maintaining social and spatial reality. This interdisciplinary project examines how public narratives – classically called as “moral panics” – over suburban youth in Helsinki and London are constructed in the media and how the youth themselves use urban space – the ‘street’ – to confirm and/or subvert these media representations. The project will also explore how the street is used to give voice to the experiences of social and spatial inequality in a broader sense, and how what we call ‘youth street politics’ – more or less organised youth action – is used to challenge these experiences. However, unlike previous research, the project redefines the concept of the ‘street’ to include also youth-generated social media content about the urban experience, for example, on YouTube. Recent events around the world, from North Africa to London and Wall Street have shown the importance of social media in creating social change and in globalising originally localised, urban movements. A comparative analysis of youth street politics in Helsinki and London enables us to argue how both the ‘street’ and ‘politics’ are redefined in European urban youth experience and whether this kind of youth politics has an impact in an intergenerational framework in a Europe concerned about youth political participation.

The project is interdisciplinary, combining perspectives from sociology, youth studies, urban studies and media studies. Although attention has recently been paid to major media events such as the global Occupy Wall Street movement, the London riots and the North African revolutions (e.g. LSE & Guardian 2011), to our knowledge there is no comparative work on local and informal youth street politics that utilises both street ethnography and media ethnography, and which aims to analyse the configurations of the local and the global in two cities, in our case namely Helsinki and London. In the project socio-spatial dialectics linked with youth street politics are carefully analysed. In other words, the project will point out not only sociological but also geographical perspectives to the object of study, thus offering new ways of understanding the issues related to the struggle of geography and spatial justice that contemporary young people experience, both in physical and virtual surroundings.

The project is funded by Helsingin Sanomat Foundation. Funding period 1.6.2012–31.5.2014

Titus Hjelm (UCL), Minttu Tikka (University of Helsinki), Leena Suurpää (The Finnish Youth Research Society), Johanna Sumiala (University of Helsinki) in cooperation with the Tampere University of Applied Sciences, The British Council, and The Finnish Institute in London.

IieP Immigrant inclusion by eParticipation

As the internet has become accessible to most citizens, it is justified to consider the social media paradigm as a potential instrument of supporting citizens’ more effective social, political and cultural participation in the society. Many obstacles still remain on the way of harnessing new possibilities for inclusion and participation of marginalized groups. Obstacles such as outdated administrative practices and incompatible technologies.

The project IIeP improves social, political and cultural inclusion of immigrants in Estonia, Finland and Sweden. The project integrates tools, activities and concepts of citizen communities and the governments’ top-down participation practices and technologies.

The outcomes of the project include recommendations for the integration of participatory activities of citizen communities with participation-facilitating approaches of governments. The project also produce a manual to advice immigrant communities and authorities in the best practices for applying ICT to promote better social, political and cultural inclusion.

Programme: Central Baltic Programme
Priority: Attractive and dynamic societies
Direction of support:  Improving living conditions and social inclusion

Lead Partner
University of Helsinki, Palmenia Centre of Continuing Education, Finland (Helsinki)

Other partners
Tallinn University, Institute of Informatics, Estonia (Tallinn)
Ministry of Justice, Finland (Helsinki)
University of Helsinki, Communication Department, Finland (Helsinki)
Södertörn University, Sweden (Handen)

Duration: 31 months 10/2009-04/2012

Partners: TEKES ja Teknologiateollisuus

Project leader at CRC: Sinikka Sassi

Towards Engaging Journalism

Research project taps into question: What is “engaging” journalism made of? The three-year project (2009-2011) aims to analyze journalism and its relevance for the audience from the perspective of social networks. The study attempts to shed light on people’s social networks: How and where people discuss public affairs and what is the role of journalism and newspapers in and for these discussions? The project is funded by Helsingin Sanomat Foundation.

At the core of the project is a 1.5 years long audience research. The empirical study focuses on nine existing social networks from four different regions in Finland. The project also utilizes textual analysis in order to find out ways in which the relevance of journalism can be studied via news texts. How are engagement and relevance produced in the texts? This analysis is also needed in order to produce workable concepts with which journalism’s relevance is discussed. Moreover, the project aims to develop analysis tools with which questions of engagement and relevance could be studied in surveys.

The study is coordinated by the Journalism Research and Development Centre (JTY) at the University of Tampere. Other participants in the project are the Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki and the Department of Communication, University of Jyväskylä.

The project co-operates with five newspapers that joined the project in order to get informed about the audience research. These newspapers are Aamulehti (Tampere), Helsingin Sanomat (Helsinki), Kaleva (Oulu), Keskisuomalainen (Jyväskylä) and Tyrvään Sanomat (Sastamala).

Heikki Heikkilä, heikki.heikkila(at), +358 3 3551 8058
Laura Ahva, laura.ahva(at), +358 3 3551 7842
Jaana Siljamäki, jaana.siljamaki(at), +358 014 260 1524
Hanna Autio, hanna.autio(at), +358 14 260 1524
Sanna Valtonen, sanna.valtonen(at), +358 9 191 24656

Contact person at CRC:
Sanna Valtonen
sanna.valtonen at
+358 9 191 24656

More information on the project website

The Future of Local Newspapers

The project examines the local newspapers in the context of broader crisis in the newspaper industry and changes in journalistic cultures. The aim is to achieve a global view of the future prospects of local newspapers in the framework of regional differences and economic conditions, and of the journalistic role of local newspapers in the newspaper industry.

Journalists’ Privilege to Use Confidential Sources

The project focuses on journalists’ right to use confidential sources without being forced to identify them. The aim of the study is to find the normative justifications of this privilege in law and in ethical codes and evaluate how the use of this right has changed over time. The empirical data consists of recent cases in Finnish journalism. Analysis concentrates on media contents, interviews of key actors and relevant literature.

Cut-and-paste Journalism?

A study on the sourcing practices in news media

The starting point of the study is the claim that the news media are increasingly dependent on ‘pre-packaged news,’ which has been seen as jeopardizing the independence of news journalism.

The aim of the study is to test two observations made in recent international studies: First, it is argued that external sources have ever more power over media and that, in particular, public relations professionals have increasing influence on news content. The relationship between journalism and PR has been typically characterized as adversarial. Recently, however, there have been growing concerns that, as the time pressures and demands for productivity intensify, journalists are increasingly unable to resist the influence of the public relations professionals.

Second, the independence of news output is said to be threatened by the fact that newsrooms increasingly circulate content within the media and are, thus, more dependent on each other. From the perspective of society, the problem is that competition tends to decrease diversity. Also, if the sourcing practices are not transparent, it is difficult for the audience to assess the origins and accuracy of the information.

This study observes the sourcing practices of news media through quantitative and qualitative analysis. The aim is twofold: First, the purpose is to explore the relationship between PR and journalism by establishing the extent to which Finnish journalism depends on public relations for its output and how this is manifested in news content. The second goal is to identify the role played by other media in shaping news content and to track how much the newsrooms derive and circulate material from their rivals.

The study consists of two phases: The first part is based on quantitative content analysis, while the second part consists of interviews with news journalists. The focus is on seven Finnish national news organisations: the Finnish national news agency (STT), the public broadcasting company (YLE), the two biggest commercial broadcasters (MTV3 and Nelonen), the biggest national daily (Helsingin Sanomat) and both of the Finnish tabloids (Ilta-Sanomat and Iltalehti).

Contact person:
Esa Väliverronen
esa.valiverronen at
+358-9-191 24841

Crisis and Communication: The Role of the Finnish Red Cross in the Organization and Communication of an Acute Crisis

The main focus is on the crisis communication of the Finnish Red Cross and its operations as an organizer in an acute crisis.

The project is closely related to the Crisis and Communication Research Project, where the co-operation of the local and regional authorities and the voluntary rescue service has emerged as an essential section of the study.

There are not many studies on crises from the perspective of voluntary agencies. The previous study have shown that in the Asian tsunami, school shootings of Jokela and Kauhajoki and Nokia water crisis the roles and the responsibilities of the authorities and the voluntary rescue service are confused.

The operations of the Finnish Red Cross are directed by law. This makes the role of the Finnish Red Cross different from the roles of other voluntary agencies.

The project leader is University Lecturer Salli Hakala.
Researchers are MSocSc Minttu Tikka and MSocSc, M. Sc. (Econ) Maarit Pedak.

Contact person:
Salli Hakala
salli.hakala at
+358-9-191 23770
+358-9-191 28032

Russia in the Finnish Media

The project explores from diverse perspectives what kind of image the Finnish media portray of Russia and Russians. This will be examined not only at the level of the media content, but also at the level of journalistic practices, the culture of political and public debate and at the level of citizens.

Digital Reputation

Digital Reputation; Characterizing and parameterizing reputation, reputation risks and the impact of digital publicity on client/customer intelligence and the competitive advantage of service organizations (DiRe)

The project’s aims include defining reputation management in digital publicity by building on existing research on reputation risk, organizational communication and management studies and studies on online communication. Our multi-discipline approach also introduces linguistic tools and methods in order to develop a framework for reputational modeling and analysis of digital publicity contents. During the research project we will use EEG, facial AMG and EDA measurements to study emotional and motivational processes associated with digital reputation.

Project is funded by Tekes and running 1.1.2010-30.6.2011. Partners in the project are University of Helsinki, Aalto University School of Economics and University of Turku.

More information in the project blog (in english)

Contact person at CRC:
Pekka Aula
pekka.aula at
Tel. +358-9-191 24918

Election Funding Crisis: Media and Politics at Crossroads?

The study aims to elucidate the significance of the election funding crisis that started in spring 2008. It seems that the decades-old, established practices of the Finnish political system are in a crisis. This offers an excellent opportunity to shed light on the relationship between the media and the political system.

The objective is to form an overall picture of the election funding crisis and answer the following three questions. First, how has the relationship between journalism and politics developed and how is it developing? Second, to which extent has the crisis affected the credibility of the media and politics in public’s eye? Third, what is the significance of the crisis to the future of journalism?

Answers are provided by interviewing key actors, analyzing media content, and examining public’s impressions on the crisis with two representative surveys and analyses of small group data and online discussions.  The project is linked to a comparative Nordic project on political scandals in the Nordic countries since 1980.

The project is funded by Helsingin Sanomat Foundation and conducted by the Universities of Helsinki and Tampere. The director of the project is university lecturer Anu Kantola and the other researchers in Helsinki are Salli Hakala and Juho Vesa.

Contact person:
Anu Kantola
anu.kantola at
+358-9-191 24653

OSVI – Participative internal communication supporting work well-being in organisations

The goal of the OSVI –research project was to study innovative participative internal communication solutions which could be used to create better work well-being in organisations. Project was focused on public sector organisation, the city of Lahti, Finland. Project started in early fall 2009 and will be finalized in the end of 2010.

Both qualitative and quantitative research methods were used during the research process. The whole staff of Lahti was asked to take part in a quantitative e-survey and multiple focus-group interviews were done in all levels of the organisation.

The qualitative part of the research open ups views of unique features of municipal organisation. The multi-hierarchical type of municipal government requires special permanent routines for the internal communication.

The quantitative part of the research found four typical dimensions of internal communication which are essential to the work well-being. The dimensions are: Participation, Communality, Support and Trust.

Further information, please contact:

Pasi Pekkola
Palmenia Center for Continuing Education

Maarit Pedak
Communication Research Centre CRC

Media for Democracy Monitor II

The project will deliver a country report on Finland for the international, comparative research project Media for Democracy Monitor (MDM). The aim of the MDM project is to develop a social science based monitoring instrument for assessing the contribution of media for democracy in established democracies. It has been developed at the University of Zurich and tested before in five European countries. The 2010 project comprises 12 countries.

The country reports have been discussed in an international project seminar in October 2010, and their results will be published as a book in 2011. The Finnish sub-project is funded by the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation. The project is led by Professor Hannu Nieminen and its researchers are Kari Karppinen and Anna-Laura Markkanen.

Contact person at CRC:
Hannu Nieminen
hannu.nieminen at
+358-9-191 24838

In collaboration with Helsingin Sanomat Foundation.

Global Value Networks, Innovation Clusters, and Finnish Firms

The objective is to explore the Finnish companies’ new competitive options in the context of global innovation clusters and global value networks. The perspective is future-driven. The idea is to examine the drivers of the business value activities in different geographies and in different business segments.

The study will focus on MNCs – in particular ‘cluster flagships’ – and SMEs which play different roles in the globalizing value networks and innovation clusters. Additionally, the project pays special attention to systemic differences between and within the markets.

The output of the project will comprise three seminars, an additional seminar for decision-makers, and a final report (max 100 pp).

  1. The seminars seek to prepare the participants for new strategic thinking in the post-crisis environment. The participants will also include member firms of The Federation of Finnish Technology Industries.
  2. The report focuses on the transformation of the global value networks and innovation clusters, the acceleration impact of the global recession and the ensuing opportunities of Finnish multinationals and SMEs in these networks.

Duration: 1.6.2010–31.12.2011. The project is funded by Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation) and The Federation of Finnish Technology Industries.

Project manager:
Janne Matikainen
janne.matikainen at
Tel. +358-9-191 24369

Researcher: Dan Steinbock

Charlie Bit My Finger! What News Media Can Learn from YouTube?

The purpose of the research project is to achieve a more profound understanding of workings of YouTube as a community building media. The project analyzes how YouTube establishes communities, the contents that appear most attractive in terms of community formation and the operation of the relationship between the media and the user in the YouTube environment.

The project applies online ethnography to analyze everyday communication patterns in YouTube. The ethnographic material collected is further analyzed and discussed in the context of research conducted on news media. By analyzing differences and similarities in the communication patterns between YouTube and news media, the project aims to offer new knowledge about the use of communication media to establish communities and a sense of belonging in today’s media society.

The project is funded by Helsingin Sanomat Foundation.

Timetable 2010-2011.

Contact person at the University of Helsinki
Johanna Sumiala
tel. +358 9 191 23632

Minttu Tikka
+358 9 191 24759

Contemporary Values and Heroes in the Newspapers

The research aims to clarify the various ways in which national value has been constructed in Estonia, Finland and Russia, and show the role of the newspaper in the development of national public sphere by studying the structures, actors and values in Finnish, Estonian and Russian dailies 1901 – 2009.

Funded by Helsingin Sanomat Foundation. Project partner University of Tarto. Timetable 1.1.2009-31.8.2010.

Hannu Nieminen
hannu.nieminen ät
+358-9-191 24838