Fixer (person)

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

A fixer or sometimes cleaner, is someone who carries out assignments for or is skillful at solving problems for others. The term has different meanings in different contexts. In British usage the term is neutral, meaning "the sort of person who solves problems and gets things done".[1] In journalism, a fixer is a local person who expedites the work of a correspondent working in a foreign country. Use in American English implies that methods used to conceal their clients' identities or potential scandals are almost certainly of questionable morality, if not legality.[2] A fixer who disposes of bodies or "cleans up" physical evidence of crime is often more specifically called a cleaner.[citation needed] In sports, the term describes someone who makes (usually illegal) arrangements to manipulate or pre-arrange the outcome of a sporting contest.


Fixers may primarily use legal means, such as lawsuits and payoffs, to accomplish their ends, or they may carry out unlawful activities. The White House Plumbers have been described as fixers for Richard Nixon; their methods included break-ins and burglary.[3] Fixers who specialize in disposing of evidence or bodies are called "cleaners", like the character of Victor "The Cleaner" in the film La Femme Nikita, or the fictional Jonathan Quinn, subject of the Brett Battles novel The Cleaner.[4]

In Britain, a fixer is a commercial consultant for business improvement, whereas in an American context a fixer is often an associate of a powerful person who carries out difficult, undercover, or stealth actions, or extricates a client out of personal or legal trouble.[1][5] A fixer may freelance, like Judy Smith, a well-known American public relations "crisis consultant" whose career provided inspiration for the popular 2012 television series Scandal.[6] More commonly a fixer works for a single employer, under a title such as "attorney" or "bodyguard", which does not typically describe the kinds of services that they provide.

Sports match fixer[edit]

In sport, when a match fixer arranges a preordained outcome of a sporting or athletic contest, the motivation is often gambling, and the fixer is often employed by organized crime. In the Black Sox Scandal, for instance, Major League Baseball players became involved with a gambling syndicate and agreed to lose the 1919 World Series in exchange for payoffs.[7] In another example, in 1975, Boston mobster Anthony "Fat Tony" Ciulla of the Winter Hill Gang was identified as the fixer who routinely bribed jockeys to throw horse races.[8][9] Other insiders may also be fixers, as in the case of veterinarian Mark Gerard, who, in September 1978, was convicted of fraud for "masterminding a horse-racing scandal that involved switching two thoroughbreds" so that he could cash in on a long-shot bet.[8]

Journalism aide[edit]

In journalism, a fixer is someone, often a local journalist, hired by a foreign correspondent or a media company to help arrange a story. Fixers will most often act as translators and guides, and will help to arrange local interviews that the correspondent would not otherwise have access to. They help to collect information for the story and sometimes play a crucial role in the outcome. Fixers are rarely credited, and often put themselves in danger, especially in regimes where they might face consequences from an oppressive government for exposing iniquities the state may want to censor.[10][11]

In modern journalism, these aides are often the prime risk mitigators within a journalist's team, making crucial decisions for the reporter. According to journalist Laurie Few, "You don't have time not to listen (to the fixer)", and anybody who disregards a fixer's advice "is going to step on a landmine, figurative or actual".[12] Throughout the last 20 years, fixers have ranged from civilians to local journalists within the regions of conflict. They are rarely credited and paid menially, which has begun a conversation for the compensation rights of these individuals. According to statistics gathered from the Global Investigative Journalism Network, the base pay for a fixer's time ranged from US$50–400 per day.[12]

A map based on publicly accessible research data shows a visual representation of data collected from various studies conducted on both fixers and their journalist counterparts from over 70 countries. Gathered from the Global Reporting Centre, the survey demographic map had 132 respondents from North America, 101 from Europe, 23 from South America, Africa and Eurasia, 63 from Asia and 9 from Australia.[13]

In popular culture[edit]

Numerous films and several songs have been named The Fixer, and, as a genre, illustrate the different meanings of the term. Most commonly, they refer to the kind of person who carries out illicit activities on behalf of someone else. For example, the 2008 British television series The Fixer is about "a renegade group acting outside the law to bring order to the spiraling criminal activity in the country".[14]

Notable fixers[edit]




Organized crime[edit]

Politics and business[edit]

Public relations[edit]


See also[edit]


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