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In Journalism, what is a Fixer?

Mary McMahon
Updated: May 23, 2024

A fixer is someone who offers assistance to foreign journalists who are trying to get a story. Fixers use their local experience and contacts to smooth the way for their employers, and many receive a high rate of pay, especially when compared to locally available wages. For traveling journalists, fixers are crucial, because without a fixer, it can be very difficult to get a story or to connect with the people of a country.

The services offered by a fixer are quite diverse. At a minimum, a fixer arranges transportation, accommodations, and meals, and uses local connections to track people down. Fixers also translate, or find translators who speak obscure dialects, and they work to arrange interviews and visits to various sites for their employers. If a fixer is not available, a journalist may struggle to get the information he or she needs, and journalists may be put in danger as a result of not having a cultural guide available.

Working as a fixer can be quite dangerous. Fixers are sometimes perceived as workers for the enemy due to their cooperation with journalists, and this can make them subject to reprisals in their communities. As many journalists recognize, once they get their stories, they can leave, but fixers stay behind. In some regions of the world, cases of kidnappings, murder, and extortion of fixers have been documented, and in some cases, kidnapped fixers have been used as a tool to force news crews to leave a country.

Some attempts have been made to protect fixers, as journalists recognize the importance of good fixers and want to be able to work with them again. Journalists tend to exchange information with each other about which fixers are the best ones to work with, and there is a growing trend towards respecting the opinion and input of fixers much more. For example, when a fixer says that a location is too unsafe to visit, a journalist may seek another way to get the story, in contrast with the past, when journalists would have insisted upon making the trip anyway.

In some cases, fixers have even gone on to become journalists themselves, after being inspired by their employers. During the Iraq War, many fixers became journalists by accident, as journalists found themselves unable to move around the country freely. While they cooled their heels in hotel rooms and lodges, their fixers took photographs, made interviews, and engaged in other acts of reporting, bringing the material back to their employers to be written up and published.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Language & Humanities researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon160355 — On Mar 15, 2011

spreadsheet misses the point. Yes, a reporter should develop trusted sources, but this is only possible when he or she lives for a while in a location, speaks the language and knows the customs. In all other cases they need a fixer. Of course they should trust their fixer, but a good fixer can simply be viewed as a trusted source of information.

By spreadsheet — On Oct 20, 2010

The use of the fixer in journalism and media organizations is exactly why I have a problem with such organizations. These companies that are for-profit claim to want to do nothing but spread information to the public and act as if they are service for good. In my experience journalism organizations are very corrupt and use things such as a fixer to help with that corruption.

True journalism would not require a fixer as a journalist would be capable of going and getting sources with the least amount of help possible as well is the ability to do so without infringing, if a person needs a fixer, it's obvious that something is being done wrong.

By summertime — On Oct 20, 2010

I think one thing that the general public usually misses about the way that journalism operations actually occurred and the way that journalists actually obtained their sources is how they go about getting those valuable sources. One journalist claimed to be extremely objective and strive for nothing but dissemination of truth and honesty, it is often found that journalists use less than honest means to obtain their sources of information.

It makes you wonder whether or not the information that they eventually get by the somewhat irresponsible means is actually viable and worth reporting. Editors must make a decision when evaluating reporters work to determine whether or not the information sources are valid.

While this may be a daunting task and time-consuming to ensure the fact checking is been done appropriately, it is worthwhile to the credibility of the media organization to ensure this is done. Because of this dedication to credibility, media organizations usually have no problem spending the money they need to stand to have a local fixer.

By Ubiquitous — On Oct 20, 2010

We have fixtures to think in journalism to make sure that we actually get reliable sources and local arenas where journalist is not actually from period dealing with things like different kinds of customs and social tendencies needs to be dealt with swiftly by a local contact to ensure that the journalists can do his job and make sure he gets the information he needs to create a viable and accurate report.

Officers may cost a lot of money, they are often very worth their while to a journalism organization and can be used for many reporters not just a single one. By using a combination of fixtures and translators that also have a keen social ability, media organizations can make the most for their money in their ability to deal with foreign locations.

By MrPolitic99 — On Oct 20, 2010

One of the most competent parts about journalism is the ability to develop sources. When a journalist or journalism organization tries to go into a new area where they have absolutely no sources and they must use of local contacts to try and develop some. While some people call these fixtures I simply call them do it people. Do it people are the kind people that actually get things done.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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