A fixer is a person who carries out assignments for another party or is skillful at solving problems for others. The term has different meanings in different contexts. In British usage the term is neutral, meaning "the sort of person who solves problems and gets things done". In journalism, a fixer is a local person who expedites the work of a correspondent working in a foreign country. In American English, to describe a person as a fixer implies that their methods over concealing their clients' potential scandals are almost certainly of questionable legality. A fixer who disposes of bodies or "cleans up" physical evidence of crime is often more specifically called a cleaner. In sports, a fixer is someone who makes (usually illegal) arrangements to fix, i.e., manipulate or pre-arrange the outcome of a sporting contest.
In Britain, a fixer is a commercial consultant for business improvement, whereas in an American context a fixer is often an associate of a powerful person who carries out difficult, undercover, or stealth actions, or extricates a client out of personal or legal trouble. A fixer may freelance, like Judy Smith, a well-known American public relations "crisis consultant" whose career provided inspiration for the popular 2012 television series Scandal. More commonly a fixer works for a single employer, under a title such as "attorney" or "bodyguard", which does not typically describe the kinds of services that they provide.
In journalism, a fixer is someone, often a local journalist, hired by a foreign correspondent or a media company to help arrange a story. Fixers will most often act as a translator and guide, and will help to arrange local interviews that the correspondent would not otherwise have access to. They help to collect information for the story and sometimes play a crucial role in the outcome. Fixers are rarely credited, and often put themselves in danger, especially in regimes where they might face consequences from an oppressive government for exposing iniquities the state may want to censor.
In modern journalism, these aides are often the prime risk mitigators within a journalist's team, making crucial decisions for the reporter. According to journalist Laurie Few, "You don't have time not to listen (to the fixer)", and anybody who disregards a fixer's advice "is going to step on a landmine, figurative or actual". Throughout the last 20 years, fixers have ranged from civilians to local journalists within the regions of conflict. They are rarely credited and paid menially, which has begun a conversation for the compensation rights of these individuals. According to statistics gathered from the Global Investigative Journalism Network, the base pay for a fixer's time ranged from US$50–400 per day.
A map based on publicly accessible research data shows a visual representation of data collected from various studies conducted on both fixers and their journalist counterparts from over 70 countries. Gathered from the Global Reporting Centre, the survey demographic map had 132 respondents from North America, 101 from Europe, 23 from South America, Africa and Eurasia, 63 from Asia and 9 from Australia.
In popular cultureEdit
Numerous films and several songs have been named The Fixer, and, as a genre, illustrate the different meanings of the term. Most commonly, they refer to the kind of person who carries out illicit activities on behalf of someone else. For example, the 2008 British television series The Fixer is about "a renegade group acting outside the law to bring order to the spiraling criminal activity in the country".
The 2000 crime picture The Way of the Gun has James Caan as a fixer known as Joe Sarno, a "Bagman".
The 2007 film Michael Clayton stars George Clooney as a fixer who works for a prestigious law firm and uses his connections and knowledge of legal loopholes to help his clients.
In Canadian writer Linden MacIntyre's award-winning 2009 novel The Bishop's Man, the protagonist is a guilt-ridden Roman Catholic priest and former fixer for the Diocese of Antigonish named Fr. Duncan MacAskill. After years of quietly resolving potential scandals involving the misdeeds of Diocesan priests, Fr. MacAskill has been assigned by his Bishop to a remote rural parish on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, and ordered to maintain a low profile. While at his new parish, Fr. MacAskill begins spiritually counselling the son of a childhood friend, who suspects that his son was molested by the previous parish priest. Deeply moved by the boy's pain, Fr. MacAskill begins to seriously question his own past and the morality of acting as a fixer of such cases. MacIntyre's novel was inspired by the 2007 sexual abuse scandal in Antigonish diocese.
The 2016 Coen brothers' film Hail, Caesar!, satirizes the American film industry of the 1950s, and is very loosely inspired by Eddie Mannix's career as a Hollywood studio executive and fixer. In the film, actor Josh Brolin portrayed Mannix, who is shown scrambling to quietly resolve the kidnapping of an A-listleading man, while battling to keep multiple thinly fictionalized send-ups of real Hollywood scandals of the era out of the tabloids. Behind it all, however, Mannix depicted as a devout, if sinful and unconventional, Roman Catholic family man with two children and a doting homemaker wife named Connie Mannix (Alison Pill).
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