The future of fixers in foreign reporting

November 13, 2012 7:00 PM

From Iraq to Afghanistan, Libya to Syria local fixers are increasingly being relied upon by journalists to help them get the story and do their jobs. For foreign journalists they provide essential local knowledge and the ability to communicate, but by doing so they often put themselves and their families in danger.

The uprisings in the Arab world, particularly in Libya, have put fresh scrutiny on the relationship between fixers and foreign journalists. We will be asking whether journalists are taking proper responsibility for their fixers.

Increasingly being used as an editorial resource to offer a local perspective, we will be examining the problems that arise from this and the role of fixers in the future of foreign reporting.

Chaired by Charles Glass, a broadcaster, journalist and writer, who began his journalistic career in 1973 at the ABC News Beirut bureau and was chief Middle East correspondent from 1983 to 1993. Since then, he has been a freelance writer, regularly covering the Middle East, the Balkans, Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean region. He has also published books, short stories, essays and articles in the United States and Europe.


Ilene Prusher, independent journalist based in Jerusalem and author of Baghdad Fixer. Prusher has covered some 30 countries in the course of her career as a foreign correspondent. She was a staff writer for The Christian Science Monitor from 2000 to 2010, serving as the bureau chief in Tokyo, Istanbul, and Jerusalem and covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Patrick Cockburn, senior Middle East correspondent since 1979 for the Financial Times and, presently, The Independent. He is an experienced commentator on Iraq and has written several books on the country including The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq and Muqtada: Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq.

Suliman Ali Zway, a Libya based freelance journalist for The New York Times and many other international broadcasters. He started his journalistic career as a fixer during the Libyan revolution. Suliman Ali Zway and his counterpart Osama Alfitory were known by international journalists as the “A Team” and went on to be awarded the Martin Adler Prize, which recognizes the dedication and bravery of local freelancers who have played a significant role in the reporting of a major news story.


Picture credit: Nicole Tung