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Foreign correspondents and fixers: an investigation of teamwork in international television newsgathering

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posted on 2024-06-17, 07:40 authored by C Murrell
This thesis considers the relationship between television foreign correspondents and their locally-hired 'fixers' in order to ascertain the centrality and significance of this relationship in facilitating international news production. The design of this research project, with its emphasis on news production practice, was guided by scholars in the sociology of news tradition, such as Jeremy Tunstall, Michael Schudson, Stephen Reese, Pamela Shoemaker and Simon Cottle. The main research question asks to what extent, and how, is the relationship between the correspondent and the fixer important to newsgathering? Drawing on the theories of Pierre Bourdieu concerning the journalistic field and the acquisition of cultural capital, this research demonstrates how fixers possess vital stores of capital which foreign correspondents borrow in order to be successful in the field. This thesis explores in depth how the players work in tandem to overcome the difficulties posed by multi-skilling, parachuting, instant live reporting, and the 24-hour news cycle. Current newsgathering practice in Iraq is investigated as a case study, which reveals the difficulties of reporting from this dateline and reflects on how the level of danger has changed the nature of the correspondent-fixer relationship. Within this relationship, where a correspondent has the ultimate power to hire and fire, a fixer nonetheless brings significant influence to bear on story generation and story coverage. But does this influence bring into the Western news agenda stories that genuinely reflect localised, indigenous viewpoints? Or, in this globalised world, are fixers simply 'People Like Us' (PLU), who have absorbed Western news values and will reinforce them through the stories that they propose? In other words, are correspondents likely to gain an insight into localised communities and their problems that they might not otherwise have understood, or will they have their own views and presumptions reflected back at them? This thesis examines what the use of fixers reveals about the political economy of news and the changing context of international news production. It asks whether the growing importance of fixers in newsgathering reflects a move by media companies to eventually outsource international newsgathering to local employees. This thesis employs a qualitative methodological approach involving semi-structured interviews with foreign correspondents and fixers to explore their modus operandi and to investigate the building of overseas news teams.

History

Start date

2011-01-01

Material type

thesis

Resource type

thesis

Language

eng

Notes

Original held at the Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne.

Publication classification

AN.1 Other book, or book not attributed to Deakin University

Copyright notice

2011, University of Melbourne

Extent

1 Ph.D. thesis; 309 p.

Publisher

University of Melbourne

Place of publication

Melbourne, Vic.

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