The fixer is the invisible force behind all foreign news. The cultural insight that they give to the foreign correspondent is invaluable to the extent that fixers often save journalists' lives. Often the fixer will be doing journalistic work themselves, such as interviews, organising, locating sources and, most crucially, translation. In countries of authoritarian ruling or in countries with ongoing conflict, the fixer is also putting themselves at extreme risk by working with foreign journalists and many have been killed for doing so.
I was surprised that I was unaware of the existence of fixers and was intrigued about their invisibility in the public eye. While researching, 45 out of 50 people I asked had no idea what a fixer was despite regularly following foreign news. It is not common practice to give fixers a joint byline or additional reporting credit, any insurance or hostile environment training, or to list them as an official member of staff at a media organisation.
And so Facing the Fixer interweaves the stories and experiences of fixers and journalists working in Cairo in order to question the nature of their employment by media organisations. Whilst working as a volunteer at last year’s One World Awards I had a lucky encounter with Patrick Kingsley, the Guardian’s Egypt correspondent who put me in contact with an Egyptian fixer and journalist Mohannad, who helped me set up meetings in Cairo. In total six people featured in the documentary: Ahmed and Hassan, both local fixers, Manu, Patrick’s fixer, Patrick, Mohannad and Mayy, an assistant reporter at the New York Times.
Ultimately the most important question is that which the film concludes with: why don't Western news organisations believe in giving local fixers a chance to be journalists themselves? It would diversify the news landscape, provide more stable jobs in developing countries and help inspire citizens on the potential power of good journalism as well as increase cultural understanding around the world.