CBC Digital Archives CBC butterfly logo

CBC Archives has a new look: Please go to cbc.ca/archives to access the new site.

The page you are looking at will not be updated.

Foreign correspondents mull the ‘fixer’

The Story

In reporter Bill Gillespie's opinion, the most important decision a foreign correspondent makes is who will be hired as your "fixer." What's a fixer? It's basically your translator and guide during your time in a foreign country. "They're really your safety net," he explains in this 2003 radio clip. But how do you choose the right fixer? Gillespie says "you need someone who has respect and standing in the community. That's the way you get doors opened." 

Medium: Radio
Program: Sounds Like Canada
Broadcast Date: May 25, 2003
Guest(s): Bill Gillespie, Laura Lynch
Host: Bernard St. Laurent
Duration: 11:47

Did You know?

• American foreign correspondent Lori Montgomery has said that when she first became a foreign reporter, she was amazed to learn about fixers. She was very impressed by all the ways they make your job easier as a journalist abroad. "I'm trying to figure out how, when I come back, I can have a fixer here," she joked in a 1999 Detroit Free Press article.

• Being a fixer can be a risky business. Dangerous Assignments (the Committee to Protect Journalists' biannual journal) wrote about the subject in a 2004 article. Fixers increasingly face serious consequences — risking injury or death on a regular basis — for their work with foreign journalists. "Fixers are subject to local retaliations more than we are. And that's the case almost anywhere," explained Juan Tomayo of the Miami Herald. "We do our story, we leave. They stay."


Bringing the World Home: International Correspondents more