World Fixer creates worldwide, reputation-based database of fixers

WorldFixer.com
WorldFixer.com

If you worked with a fixer, you know how valuable they can be, and also how difficult they can be to find. Typically, one asks for recommendations from others who have worked in a region to find someone to help with translating, transportation, and access. Now, World Fixer aims to create a worldwide database of fixers for media companies to help facilitate their reporting. This is a huge undertaking and one which requires a method to verify safety and reputation on both sides of the equation. Reporters need to know that the prospective fixer knows what they’re doing and won’t sell the reporter to kidnappers, etc. Fixers need to know that people contacting them for work are actual journalists and not just trying to get personal information so they can kill or kidnap the fixer. Columbia Journalism Review has a good backgrounder on some of the issues at play in the fixer-journalist relationship.

I asked Mike Garrod, one of the founders of World Fixer, a bit about how the site works.

It is common that facilitators let their guard down just because an employer is waving a cheque book but it’s important that they know as much as they can find out before engaging on a project.”Mike Garrod, founder of World Fixer

World Fixer started this year to try and help employers (media, NGO’s and Travel operators) find trusted, local fixers, producers and journalists around the world. The key word here is ‘trusted’ and anyone who has had to use local staff in their ventures will know what can go wrong,” Garrod said over email. So they’ve developed a system for verifying and tracking reputation of both fixers and those who would hire them. Members on the site give confidential references to World Fixer who then call and verify their identity and capabilities. Members can also post testimonials and reviews of individuals they work with through World Fixer. But, he acknowledges that there is “no foolproof system” to ensure trust, and encourages users to perform their own due diligence before working with someone found on the site. World Fixer also offers services to conduct background checks and additional verification of fixers.

Fixers can also work with World Fixer to get background information about the companies and journalists that would hire them. The site encourages users to keep all correspondence on the site so that there is a record in case of any disputes. The fixer-journalist relationship can be unbalanced, Garrod said. “It is common that facilitators let their guard down just because an employer is waving a cheque book but it’s important that they know as much as they can find out before engaging on a project.”

Sites like World Fixer require a critical mass of users to be of any value. Having only started this year, I was curious about how big the database is so far. Garrod says that the founders of World Fixer have 25 years in the journalism business so mined their existing contacts to start. There are now nearly 900 fixers listed in the database and 300 employers have signed up, including independent journalists, BBC News desks, Discovery Channel, ABC, and Save the Children and other NGOs.

Take a look around the site yourself. Garrod said that signups are welcome for fixers, journalists, and media companies. “We are keen to create more work for our fixers in whatever form that comes so [photographers and other journalists] are welcome to [sign up],” Garrod said. Of course, new members must provide contact information so they can be verified before having access to fixer information.

And be sure to check out World Fixer’s blog. There are posts including notes from the field, ideas about physical and data security precautions, and explorations of issues affecting fixers.

Yale Photogrammar: searchable, organized archive of 170,000 FSA photos

Yale Photogrammar - Photos from the FSA organized
Yale Photogrammar – Photos from the FSA organized

A Yale University initiative has made 170,000 FSA photos available online in an easily searchable archive called Photogrammar. The US Farm Security Administration’s Office of War Information photography project during the Great Depression was an unbelievable undertaking. A handful of photographers spent a decade chronicling life in the United States as a way to build support for government programs. The work continues to be an inspiration (see Facing Change, for instance, or Everyday USA), but it’s always been tough to take it all in. The Library of Congress’ archive is difficult to navigate; some images might also be on the Flickr Commons, but it’s hard to tell.

You can search by keyword or photographer, but for me the county-by-county map of photos is the best way to navigate. No matter where you are in the US, you can probably find a photo taken within 50 miles. Check out the dot map, too; you can easily see Jack Delano‘s route between Chicago and Los Angeles there, for instance. And looking up Delano, I learned that he was a composer and earned $2,300/year while photographing for the FSA, the equivalent of $39,270.57 in 2014.

I could spend hours looking through this website…

(via a friend on Facebook)

Worth a look: Offside Brazil by Magnum and local photographers

Screenshot of Offside Brazil
Screenshot of Offside Brazil

Following in the footsteps of the ongoing Postcards from America tumblr project, five Magnum photographers and five Brazilian photographers are posting daily photos to Offside Brazil. I’m not a sports fan, but the project appeals to me because it focuses on the social and economic impact of the World Cup games as they happen. I wish there was more text to go along with the project (and I’d bet there will be a book or exhibition of this work in the future) but it’s a fascinating glimpse into daily life in the country from a variety of perspectives.

There’s Jonas Bendiksen’s super slow-mo videos (the New Yorker has a little more information about those, which he calls “Still films”) and Alex Majoli doing his usual interesting work. And there’s Paulo Fehlauer’s triptychs, Barbara Wagner looking at the city of Recife, Pio Figueiroa’s stories of Sao Paolo’s urban nightlife, and Midia Ninja‘s documentation of different protests (Midia Ninja is an independent journalism/activist group in Brazil).

Tumblr might not be the best way of presenting the work, but it helps get the work out fast and to a large audience. There’s a lot to look at, and the project is moving fast. There were three or four new pictures added while I wrote this post. However, the project is definitely worth keeping an eye on and does a great job at providing context to the circumstances surrounding the World Cup as it all unfolds.