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Rohingya crisis : The past few months in Rakhine State have shone a light on the difficulties that journalists face when reporting from Myanmar’s fringe regions. But this struggle is not particularly new — reporters have been pressed ever since the violence began both to protect themselves and to ensure that their reporting reflects reality for those on the ground.

Changes the world over in foreign news production during the last few decades have reduced the resources available for foreign coverage and investigative reporting, often reinforcing dominant narratives of ‘us versus them’ rather than unearthing the complexity of a situation. Since the break out of communal violence in Myanmar between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in 2012, stories have exhibited this reductionism.

With the increasing pressure to maximise profits and cut costs, foreign bureaus and locally-based foreign correspondents have increasingly relied on local people in faraway places. But this has occurred without a corresponding increase in attention to the role of these key local players in the process. These local assistants, generally known as ‘fixers’, are routinely hired by foreign correspondents or by ‘parachute journalists’ who fly in for short periods, report on the situation and then move on to their next assignment. In Rakhine State, hiring fixers to help with logistics and translation has become a necessary part of most reporters’ production process— including for those who are based in Myanmar’s cities but do not speak the relevant local languages. Read more

The past few months in Rakhine State have shone a light on the difficulties that journalists face when reporting from Myanmar’s fringe regions. But this struggle is not particularly new — reporters have been pressed ever since the violence began both to protect themselves and to ensure that their reporting reflects reality for those on the ground.

Changes the world over in foreign news production during the last few decades have reduced the resources available for foreign coverage and investigative reporting, often reinforcing dominant narratives of ‘us versus them’ rather than unearthing the complexity of a situation. Since the break out of communal violence in Myanmar between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in 2012, stories have exhibited this reductionism.

With the increasing pressure to maximise profits and cut costs, foreign bureaus and locally-based foreign correspondents have increasingly relied on local people in faraway places. But this has occurred without a corresponding increase in attention to the role of these key local players in the process. These local assistants, generally known as ‘fixers’, are routinely hired by foreign correspondents or by ‘parachute journalists’ who fly in for short periods, report on the situation and then move on to their next assignment. In Rakhine State, hiring fixers to help with logistics and translation has become a necessary part of most reporters’ production process— including for those who are based in Myanmar’s cities but do not speak the relevant local languages.