Farshad Usyan, 28, hails from the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan. He started working as a freelance photojournalist and reporter in the Northern region of Afghanistan in March 2013. His work is focused on social reportage, current affairs and documentaries. Farshad has won several national and international photojournalism awards and recognition.
By Amanda MAYO and Kelly SMITS
.@Farshadusyan is our guest now. He is a freelance photojournalist and reporter for the @afpfr and the @nytimes. He has won several national and international photojournalism awards and is known for his work in Afghanistan
What international reporters owe to their fixers ?#NPDJ pic.twitter.com/6NNrXDFbrG
— EDJ Sciences Po (@sciencespoEDJ) December 6, 2021
- For international reporters, fixers are the key to access forbidden areas
- Fixers are essential for journalistic work
- Farshad Usyan sheds light on the alarming situation of fixers, who are not treated fairly by international media outlets and reporters
“Fixers are the key to access forbidden areas, you pay them a fair amount of money because they are risking their lives.” With these words Farshad Usyan started his session regarding what international reporters owe to their fixers. The Afghan journalist used his session to shed light on the alarming situation of fixers, often abandoned by international reporters after their job is done.
For international reporters, fixers are a necessity to carry out reports or documentaries in conflict areas or other forbidden zones. Fixers are local journalists who take care of every arrangement: they bring their language skills and local knowledge to the table, finding transport, sources and accommodation for international journalists. As Uysan puts it, with the fixers’ help “your reportage is ready-made, served for you to just eat it.” Yet, they do not get enough credit for their work and for the risks they take.
According to Usyan, the main issues faced by fixers revolve around financial arrangements and safety. “Most of the time they do not have a written contract, just a verbal agreement. They have no claim if there is an issue.” Fixers do not enjoy the same advantages as international reporters, such as insurance or a chance to escape the area if things go wrong. “The international reporter gets out but the fixer stays inside and must face the consequences.”
Financial compensation is also a huge problem for fixers. There is a huge gap between what international reporters make and what they pay their fixers. “They don’t even get 10% of what the foreing correspondents get from their media outlet.” This is especially challenging due to the fixer’s professional position. “It is a job where you can’t get a promotion. You are always stuck between the international reporter and your contacts and sources.”
Usyan demands better recognition of fixers’ work by international media outlets. Fixers should also get credit for the videos, pictures or reportages they help international journalists produce. Fixers are essential to journalistic work, and many international journalists wouldn’t have been able to produce content without them: “It is because they found the right fixers to get to the right location and forbidden areas.”