24th May 2016
By Stefanie Chernow

EJN Hosts Special Event on Migration Coverage


Photo: Eddi B. Saxegaard / Demokraten

The Ethical Journalism Network and the Norwegian Institute for Journalism hosting an event in Fredrikstad on June 6th to bring together media professionals, academics and exiled media based in Norway to debate how media cover of migration and the ethics of using graphic and disturbing images.


The event was covered by Eddi B. Saxegaard a freelance journalist for the Demokraten newspaper.

The event at the offices of the Norwegian Institute for Journalism coincided with a Scandinavian documentary photography and photojournalism being held from May 30th – June 5th.

The EJN presented a special screening of “Sea of pictures” a documentary about how the images of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler who drowned with members of his family trying to trying to reach Europe. The photos of his dead body washed up on a Turkish beach became a symbol of the refugee crisis but also raised many ethical issues about how media cover migration and the use of such images.

The documentary’s producer, Misja Pekel, joined the event via skype after the screening to answer questions from the audience followed by a panel discussion featuring exiled journalists in Norway, the EJN’s director and Aidan White and others.

A sea of pictures

Thousands of people from Africa and the Middle East have drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe over the last two years. But most people only know the name of one; Aylan Kurdi.

On September 2, the photo of the Syrian toddler washed up on the beach in Bodrum, Turkey went viral on social media. A day later it was on the front page of newspapers worldwide. Since then media have called image ‘iconic’. Politicians and others have attempted to use the photograph for their own ends and to further their agendas. Supporters and opponents of a more generous refugee policy have also tried to embrace Aylan Kurdi as a symbol of their cause.

Over seven months on from Aylan Kurdi’s death, A Sea of Images, a documentary film by Dutch public broadcasting programme Media Logic, asks:

  • What is the significance of such an image in the refugee debate?
  • Why did this particular picture come to symbolise the refugee crisis?
  • Who was inspired by this? And who benefited from it?

The film explores both the ethical choices made by journalists that published the image as well as the impact it has had on policy and wider attitudes to migration.

The previous topics tackled by the Media Logic series include the role of the media in the Eurozone crisis which was nominated for the Prix Europa and ‘The World According to Russia Today’.

The Ethical Journalism Network and the Norwegian Institute for Journalism hope that the event will provide an opportunity to further debate on how migration, refugees, vulnerable children and dead bodies are dealt with in Norwegian and international media.

The EJN’s Moving Stories report covers four countries in Europe as well as European Union:

For more on the report see:

Press Release | Foreword | Introduction | Recommendations