Do editorial cartoons have a place on social media? Instagram as an opinion platform

Toward the beginning of this month, The Atlantic magazine posted an editorial cartoon sequence to its Instagram account, which got me thinking: is there a place for opinion, and particularly editorial cartoons, on high school publications staffs’ social media accounts?

Here’s the cartoon, by Sage Stossel, posted as a swipeable gallery on The Atlantic’s Instagram feed:


View this post on Instagram


Kavanaugh and the Court, by @sagestossel #sageink

A post shared by The Atlantic (@theatlantic) on

If a staff were to try to integrate editorial cartoons in the same way, I would definitely recommend they identify the content as opinion to avoid confusing the reader. It would also be a worthwhile discussion with your editorial board to consider whether this would be an inappropriate use of the staff’s account. If you haven’t done so already, this is probably a good time to establish your staff’s social media policies (as adviser Jill Burns explained in this post).

Here are a few questions that immediately come to mind, which could be great discussion starters:

  • Will readers make the distinction between news and editorial content?
  • Will the use of social media accounts to share opinion content negatively impact news and other non-opinion content?
  • Would it be better to create alternative accounts that serve different purposes (like The New York Times does)? How might that work? What challenges might we face?
  • What value is there in sharing content in this way? Would it also be cross-posted to the website and, perhaps, other social media accounts, like Twitter and Facebook?

If you know that your audience is already on a social media platform like Instagram, it makes sense to bring your content to them. This is one new way to do that.

Michelle Balmeo

Michelle Balmeo, MJE, is the adviser of The Whirlwind newsmagazine and online news publication at West Albany High School in Albany, Ore. She's done some print stuff, some video stuff, and some web stuff over the past 16 years as a student media adviser.

Michelle Balmeo has 66 posts and counting. See all posts by Michelle Balmeo

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