November 27, 2008 3:27 PM   Subscribe

Fixers are local guides who help foreign journalists get by. Fixers on the Frontline in 6 parts - 1 2 3 4 5 6.
posted by gman (9 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Wow... great stuff. I recently watched the Beirut episode of No Reservations and got the gist of what a 'fixer' was from there, and how crucial they are to smooth operations, but then lost track of looking it up while watching the rest of the episode.
posted by jangie at 3:40 PM on November 27, 2008

jangie - Good call. I saw that episode as well. Bourdain got caught in Beirut as the last war began. Here is the episode itself.
posted by gman at 3:45 PM on November 27, 2008

If you like good comics and fixers, also check out Joe Sacco's The Fixer. Review here
posted by renraw at 4:26 PM on November 27, 2008

fixers are also used by large global multinationals who send teams to do research in the field
posted by infini at 6:54 PM on November 27, 2008

I also remember this businessman I was on a boat with in the Congo having a fixer.
posted by gman at 7:13 PM on November 27, 2008

What with imprisonment of innocent scapegoats, Bernard Malamud's The Fixer is also a good choice.
posted by Bitter soylent at 1:57 AM on November 28, 2008

My father is an American reporter. He talks very little about his work, but I know he's worked with fixers. They've translated for him, brought him canaries in Kuwait (early warning system for chemical attack), helped him get out of Macedonia when the airports closed. I've been grateful numerous times for people whose names and fates I'll never know.

Last summer, he told me about a colleague in Beijing for the Olympics trying to interview spectators as they headed into the Bird's Nest. He had been granted permission, but had brought a fixer anyway. A spectator would stop, the police would come over to hassle them, the fixer would get them to leave, and the cycle would repeat. The reporter eventually got his footage, but it took a while, and it wouldn't have been possible without the fixer. It was an amusing story, but amusing seems to be the exception rather than the rule.

This is terrific stuff. Thanks for the post.
posted by swerve at 9:33 AM on November 28, 2008

renraw beat me to it. The Fixer, and most of Sacco's other stuff, is really good.
posted by pwicks at 4:16 PM on November 28, 2008

I fact-checked after my post and feel compelled to correct the record: the canaries were supplied by British security people. But my father agrees that fixers are indispensable and has lots of stories about them.
posted by swerve at 7:56 PM on November 28, 2008

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