After a long silence, journalists are now talking about the inequality in care paid to photojournalists working in war zones, and the local fixers who help them in their work. The issue is now being addressed by the Poynter institute, the non-profit journalism education organization.

Reporting on the Poynter Web site, writer Steve Myers talks to photographers and editors about what protection, if any, they are authorized to offer local fixers if they are injured or threatened while on the job. Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists notes, “I’ve seen news organizations absolutely step up and support people—even people who have been contracted informally—and I’ve seen news orgs turn their back on people.”

One problem, Simon explains, is the variety of relationships between fixers and the organizations who hire them, “from the one-time assignment to the everyday job, from the driver hired by a full-time employee to one picked up by a freelancer.”

Photographer Lynsey Addario, who worked with two drivers who met bad ends—one, a driver in Afghanistan’s Swat valley who was killed when he fell asleep at the wheel, another who was very likely murdered when Addario and three New York Times colleagues were captured in Libya—argues that the Times has compensated locals when appropriate, but points out that not all hires are alike. “A blanket rule would presume that all situations abroad with local hires are black and white, and anyone who has worked overseas knows that that just isn’t the case.”

The New York Times has been criticized for its treatment of the three media assistants who have died while working for the Times since 2003. Bill Keller, executive editor of the Times, tells Myers that the paper has spent hundreds of thousand of dollars to repatriate media assistants who have been in danger in Iraq and elsewhere. “We have relocated local hires when their work put them at risk, paying all of their costs.” Keller adds that freelancers on assignment for the Times are placed on the newspaper’s insurance plan when they enter conflict zones; for locals, however, “we assume responsibility for death, disability and medical at our own expense.”

One interesting note: the Committee to Protect Journalists says that media companies can get specialized insurance for its fixers in conflict areas. The policies are expensive. Photojournalist Teru Kuwayama, who has been outspoken in his criticism of news organizations’ treatment of fixers, says taking out such policies on fixers would be a “massive step forward.”

The full article can be found at: Poynter.org.

Related stories:

Talking about the Deaths We Don’t Talk About

What to Expect if You’re Injured on Assignment

Tags:

COMMENTS

MORE POSTS

Photojournalist Jeroen Oerlemans Killed in Libya

Posted by on Monday October 3, 2016 | Obituary, Photojournalism

Dutch photojournalist Jeroen Oerlemans, 45, was killed in Sirte, Libya, on October 2 while on assignment for the Belgian magazine Knack and other publications, Al Jazeera reports.  His body was taken to Misrata, where a doctor reported that Oerlemans had been shot in the chest by a sniper for ISIS, which has been fighting for... More

Dotan Saguy’s Advice for Shooting Street Photography

Posted by on Friday September 2, 2016 | Photojournalism

©Dotan Saguy A former tech entrepreneur now pursuing photography as a second career, Dotan Saguy has gained notice for his project about the vitality, energy and spectacle of Venice Beach. National Geographic, ABC News, and others have published the work online, and Saguy, 46, has been invited to attend both the Missouri Photo Workshop and... More

Getty Images Awards $50,000 In Grants to Five Photojournalists

Posted by on Thursday September 1, 2016 | Awards/Contests/Grants, Photojournalism

Mary F. Calvert, Kirsten Luce, Katie Orlinsky, Sergey Ponomarev and Jonathan Torgovnik have each won a $10,000 grant from Getty Images through its annual Grants for Editorial Photography program. The program aims to  “showcase and support powerful and inspiring photojournalism projects,” says Getty Images, which announced the winners today. Ponomarev, based in Moscow, was recognized for his... More