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The union of Prince William and Kate Middleton is a gift to journalists that will keep on giving, long after the vows are exchanged at Westminster Abbey. But as magazines, newspapers and broadcasters prepare to reveal the innermost secrets of the latest royal couple, what do we know about the working practices of the mysterious and occasionally exotic band of journalists who make a living reporting on the House of Windsor — the royal correspondents?
The relationship between the royals and the media is a tempestuous one. In some cases they are like family friends. For others, things are not so amicable. And it would appear that the royals are also capable of offending the press.
That was about familiarity, introducing Kate to us and introducing us to Kate. Hughes remembers one such incident.
Suspicions of hacking were raised when NoW published a story saying that Bradby had lent William broadcasting equipment to edit his gap year videos together, something that only he and two other people would have known. But not all encounters between the press and the royals are so intimate. We once saw that the Queen had a hole in her shoe because she was sitting with her legs crossed.
Lots of women were in fancy dress and scantily clad. Additional reporting by Harriet Thurley. Every day a little-known band of workers risk their lives to help foreign correspondents report in the most dangerous places on earth. It ended with her bullet-ridden body being dumped at the side of the road in Basra. Al-Khal and freelance American journalist Steven Vincent had been investigating police death squads in Iraq. The two captives were eventually bundled out of the vehicle and told to run. She was hit once in the leg and twice in the chest.
Their bodies were dumped together back in central Basra as a warning to all media workers in Iraq. But the plight of al-Khal, who miraciously survived, was quickly forgotten. The fixer is often bodyguard, interviewer, guide to local traditions and cultures, historian and connection to elusive individuals, all in one. The role is difficult to define, transgressing far beyond that of translator or driver and often including all of the traditional reporting jobs.
Danger is the one certainty of working as a fixer in a war zone. In some instances, where it is too dangerous for the journalist to leave a protected zone, fixers can even be wholly responsible for a story. But not only do fixers not receive the same prestige and credit as journalists, they are rarely afforded the same protection. She was transferred to Baghdad and protected in FBI custody.
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Until one day they decided it was time for her to move on. One such individual was Afghan fixer Ajmal Naqshbandi, who was beheaded by the Taliban in after he was kidnapped with Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo and their driver. Mastrogiacomo was released in exchange for five Taliban militants but demands for two more militants for Naqshbandi were not met, provoking questions about the different valuation placed on journalists and fixers by the Italian government.
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This apparent lack of importance is a stark contrast to how invaluable fixers typically are. Streetwise, trustworthy and 0. Top: Security forces try to control a crowd in front of the Palestinian parliament, Oct Bottom: Aftermath of an explosion in Rafah, Gaza The dependable fixer comes from all walks of life and in all guises.
Sometimes a good fixer is also a local journalist or someone recommended by another correspondent. Or the correspondent might be greeted at Hyderabad airport in India by someone like Ali, an entrepreneur and fan of Sherlock Holmes novels from a tiny village nearby.
Ali spotted the opportunity to use his good English and colourfully decorated car to lift himself and his family out of poverty. Or the journalist might be lucky enough to be referred to Riko, a legendary figure in the East Congo fixing community, with his leather jackets, shades and reputation for introducing journalists to a cannibal rebel leader in a secret deep jungle location.
Finding a fixer can be particularly difficult in countries with strongly autocratic regimes, such as Algeria, Yemen, Syria, Libya and Iran, where even local journalists have no concept of a free, investigative press. In these countries it is hard sometimes to tell a fixer from a government spy. Adwan Adwan became a fixer in Gaza aged He worked for three years until he left to study journalism at City in Jazeera English and Bloomberg TV, is familiar with this difficulty.
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I could be worth millions, especially if I was Italian or French; their governments almost always pay. For many individuals, working as a fixer is a life enriching experience not just because it pays so well. He recalls how Ali Kahan, the fixer he worked with in India, gained a prestigious reputation in his village. When I helped a photojournalist and news editor from AFP cover the Israeli seizure of a neighbourhood in Rafah on 19 May , it was only chance that saved us from the Israeli air strike.
We started out around 6am to cover the situation inside the besieged neighbourhood. People from inside were being interviewed live on the radio. We have kids. Here, the police were able to protect all of them together. Someone told us that there was a peaceful demonstration against the siege. We were driving towards it, just minutes away, when there was a loud explosion and plumes of smoke.
The journalists were really scared. We could have been there.
So we stopped the car for a few minutes and waited to see what had happened. When we arrived we found there had been 11 killed. Their bodies had all been evacuated but it was still a mess. There was blood everywhere. And body parts. In these situations the protocol is to go from the scene to the hospital, where you can interview families of the dead. But not all of the bodies could fit in the morgue because it was already full from previous days. Some were in a big fridge nearby usually used for storing flowers.
The bodies were in rows with blood soaked sheets over them. But you could still see their faces. I give the world peace, love and beauty with my flowers and this is what I get back. Dead people, blood, misery, sadness. Sometimes we finish as late as 11 or 12pm, grab a few hours sleep and then get up again if something big happens. It is very important not to get wrong what somebody has said. You can get into a lot of trouble in Gaza. She says that on occasion journalists have neglected to pay her for researching and writing entire stories anyway.
All they could find out was his name, the fact that he had been killed by a suicide bomber as he left a hotel in Baghdad, and that he had worked for The Times for seven years. Clearly they had no clue who he was, because there was no contract, no other paperwork.
No journalist would. Agha was beheaded and Mastrogiacomo released in exchange for the release of five Taliban militants. Demands for two more in exchange for fixer Naqshbandi were not met and he was beheaded two weeks later. Other fixers find it hard to maintain such conviction in the value of their work. We argued and he stormed off, but we made up the next day. This, Cookson admits, is the nature of news. Many are like Iraqi fixer Yasser who, when the International Federation of Journalists IFJ came to record his death in their annual report on media staff.
Palestinian civilians rush for cover during a clash between Fatah militants and militants of the Hamas movement, June It can mean the difference between getting treatment or dying. Thousands of miles away in the UK, it is understandable that news desks might underappreciate the role of the fixer, either failing to credit them with a byline or neglecting to report their abduction or death. By and large good reporters do that. She felt that she was not only abandoned by the FBI but also by most of the journalists she worked for. In the end she was rescued primarily, she says, because of the efforts of the widow of Steven Vincent, the journalist who was murdered alongside her.
This was a long and difficult process, taking 18 months of dedication on the part of Ramaci. Al-Khal is all too aware of how easily she could have been forgotten, left living alone in a hotel, unable to find a job or even see relatives in Baghdad for fear of jeopardising their safety. Many fixers have been used and abandoned and betrayed.