By Johana Kotišová and Mark Deuze, available here.
This paper offers a critical review of scholarly research on fixers, the local collaborators of foreign correspondents, in conflict reporting. Based on a thematic analysis of work that addresses news fixing, we summarize what we know about fixers in conflict zones while using postcolonial lens to further develop some critical arguments that are already present in the body of research. Existing studies well describe what fixers do, who they are, and the inequalities in safety, in authority over the content of reporting, and in the distribution of money that haunt conflict reporting. However, we argue that most of the research too readily accepts as a starting point the division between West and non-West, which assumes that fixers are fundamentally different from and unequal to Western correspondents and emphasizes these disparate identities without questioning them, thus reproducing fixers’ otherness and exoticism. To gain a better position for promoting creative justice, we suggest that future research practices and questions could be recalibrated in line with the postcolonial move and the current reconfiguration of the political and epistemic relations between the world’s regions.