Anglophone journalists by and large under-appreciate the contributions and lives of local fixers, Lindsay Palmer, of University of Wisconsin-Madison, writes. Palmer analysed 189 fixer-related articles from six journalism trade publications from the US, UK, and Canada.
Some of the articles considered the fixers’ point of view: their safety, the credit they’re given, and the value they provide. Most commonly, however, the articles depicted fixers as expensive yet necessary liabilities. More often than not, fixers’ kidnappings and murders were glossed over as something inevitable – almost like naturally occurring accidents rather than professional oversights to be amended.
Furthermore, issues related to fixers -such as biased or inaccurate translation- were seen as just that: issues related to fixers rather than their employers. Insufficient language skills, local knowledge, and cultural understanding force correspondents to rely on fixers, yet it’s the fixers’ lack of professionalism that is seen as the problem, the author laments.
The article “Lost in Translation” was published by the journal Journalism Studies. It is available online (abstract free).
Picture: Waiting by Jim Pennucci, licence CC BY 2.0.