Fixers and Journalism: First-person insights into working together internationally

On Jan. 30, 2020 from 3-4:15 p.m. EST, the National Press Club Journalism Institute produced a program on the essential role of local guides, who work with correspondents as they navigate dangerous and difficult situations in order to tell important stories.

Panelists include:

  • Chris Knittel, a fixer/producer in the United States who covers crime subjects for documentaries across the country. He’s worked for National Geographic, VICELAND, Netflix and others. He is currently directing his first feature documentary about a murder he witnessed as a juvenile, 21 years ago.
  • Ashraf Khalil, a Washington-based reporter for the Associated Press. He spent more than 15 years covering the Middle East for a variety of news organizations, including the Los Angeles Times, The Economist, Foreign Policy, France 24, Time magazine and the Middle East edition of Rolling Stone. He is the author of the book “Liberation Square: Inside the Egyptian Revolution and the Rebirth of a Nation.”
  • Suzan Haidamous, a Washington Post reporter covering Lebanon, Syria and the Middle East region. She has worked as a fixer, producer and interpreter since 2006 for ABC Australia, BBC, CBS, PBS, NPR, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, and many other news organizations. 
  • Larry Kaplow, NPR’s International Desk Editor who edits the work of NPR’s correspondents in the Middle East and helps direct coverage about the region. Kaplow reported extensively from the Middle East, as well as Mexico City and Guatemala, prior to joining NPR in 2013.

The discussion was moderated by Lindsay Palmer, an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and author of “The Fixers: Local News Workers and the Underground Labor of International Reporting.” Palmer’s book will be available for purchase at the program. 

As Palmer shares in her book, “Fixers’ contributions to journalism are largely hidden from us, yet they underpin the entire international news industry: almost every international news story we read today could not be produced without a fixer.”