31st July 2017
By Tom Law

Screening: Sea of Pictures + Q&A

To mark World Day against Trafficking in Persons, the Ethical Journalism Network collaborated with the Frontline Club London to present Sea of Pictures – a documentary film about the ethics of how media use images of refugees and vulnerable people.

The film focuses on the image of Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi, who was found drowned on a beach in Turkey while trying to reach Europe with his family. This image went viral and became a symbol of the refugee crisis and the widespread international apathy up until that point. His image was seen on front pages of newspapers and shared extensively on social media across the globe.

The screening was followed by a debate chaired by Dorothy Byrne Head of News and Current Affairs at Channel Four in the United Kingdom. Dorothy is the Chairperson of the Ethical Journalism Network.

The panelists – photojournalist Anastasia Taylor-Lindr and the producer of Sea of PicturesMisja Pekel – discussed how pictures can impact and reshape public discourse and policy, but often in ways that were entirely unintended.

The film featured Farida Vis, director of Visual Social Media Lab at the University of Sheffield. Her research can be found here.

Debate Chair

Dorothy Byrne is Head of News and Current Affairs at Channel Four in the United Kingdom. She was appointed in September 2003, having previously edited the award-winning Dispatches. During her tenure, the Channel’s news and current affairs programmes have won numerous BAFTA, RTS, Emmy Awards and others. In 2014, Dispatches won the RTS Journalism Awards for both best Home and best International Current Affairs, the first time one strand won both awards, and Channel Four News won the RTS Journalism Award for Best News Programme of the Year for the second year running.


Anastasia Taylor-Lindr is an English/Swedish photojournalist who has been working on issues relating to women, population and war for over a decade. She is a Harvard Nieman Fellow 2016, and recently finished a year of research at the university on war, and how we tell stories about modern conflict. During the program she studied narrative non-fiction writing. Anastasia is also a TED fellow. She has written about her experiences as a photojournalist for The New York Times, TIME LightBox, Nieman Reports and National Geographic. As a photographic storyteller, her focus has been on long-form narrative reportage for monthly magazines. She is a National Geographic Magazine contributor, and other clients include Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, TIME, The New York Times, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph and The Guardian.

Misja Pekel is a film maker and producer of the film Sea of Pictures. Misja studied Law and Journalism in Amsterdam and Leeds. He is a documentary filmmaker at the Dutch public broadcasterHuman. Besides documentaries, he is working on Medialogica, a tv series about public opinion and the influence of media.

Ethical Migration Reporting

Over the last three years improving the quality of migration reporting has been a priority for the Ethical Journalism Network, conducting two major studies on migration coverage, creating practical tools for journalists.

The EJN has released a special edition of Ethics in the News in which the makers of Sea of Pictures, Misja Pekel and Maud van de Reijt write about the Ethics of Photographing Refugees and other vulnerable groups.

Last year the EJN was commissioned by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) to write a report on how media on both sides of the Mediterranean cover migration. The report, which was published to mark World Press Freedom Day on May 3, covers 17 countries and provides recommendation for media and policy makers.

For more from the EJN on migration reporting read Moving Stories, a report on how to cover the migration crisis and “How does the media on both sides of the Mediterranean report on migration?”.