Colleen Murrell

International fixers: Cultural interpreters or 'People Like Us'?

Western television correspondents working abroad usually employ 'fixers' to short circuit newsgathering and gain instant access to local stories and useful contacts. These people are often employed in an ad-hoc fashion with apparent serendipity or they are chosen on the recommendations of friends, colleagues, Facebook contacts or via databases in newsrooms. But are these people representative of local views in the particular country in question or are they instead representative of a particular socio-economic class, whose globalised cultural viewpoints are replicated through each chosen fixer from country to country? In class or cultural terms are they, in fact, 'People Like Us' (PLU)? This paper analyses data from twenty senior British and Australian television correspondents and from five fixers working in crisis-stricken countries. The social theories of Pierre Bourdieu are employed to examine the field of journalism and the exchange of cultural capital that takes place between the Western correspondent and the locally employed fixer.

Keywords: foreign correspondent, fixer, newsgathering, Pierre Bourdieu, television news, globalisation


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Note on the contributor

Dr Colleen Murrell is a senior lecturer at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. She researches international newsgathering and chairs the radio and television units. She has just finished a project comparing the 24 hour news cycles of ABC Australia and BBC World. She is presently gathering data on CBC-Radio Canada's international newsgathering. In a previous career she worked as a news editor for a number of international news organisations, including the BBC, ITN and APTN. Contact details: