The fixer on the Pak-Afghan frontier: A de-skilled local labour in the global media
Keywords:Fixer, Pashtun, global news production, conflict zone, Marxist theory, FATA, Proletarianization, War journalism, Practicing journalists, News production, Global media, Precarity, Neo-imperialism
This study examines power misuse in global news production by focusing on the role of “fixer.” Fixer is a local journalist who reports for global media on conflict-riddled areas or crisis situations. By interviewing forty fixers in Pakistan’s war-hit Pashtun Belt along the Afghanistan border, I examine the challenges they face in working with the global media’s visiting journalists before the start of the war on terror. Using Marx’s concept of proletarianization which is a process in which capital transforms a great mass of society into daily wage workers, I reveal how the local journalist, who works as fixer, is not only de-professionalized, but his precarity, due to living in a war zone, also forces him to misuse his local news traditions in working for the global media. I argue that fixers are far more than just assistants to global media outlets. Not only are they all practicing journalists in their own right, but, as locals, they also are geographically better placed to use their experience than those journalists who are coming from outside the conflict zone. Yet, this subsidiary role automatically erases this distinction leading to the real fixers’ de-skilling with consequences for the entire region.
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