LOCAL NEWSMAKING &
IN TURKEY & SYRIA
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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2022
Honorable Mention, Mary Douglas Award for Best Book, ASA Culture Section
News 'fixers' are translators and guides who assist foreign journalists. Sometimes key contributors to bold, original reporting and other times key facilitators of homogeneity and groupthink in the news media, they play the difficult but powerful role of broker between worlds, shaping the creation of knowledge from behind the scenes. In Fixing Stories, Noah Amir Arjomand reflects on the nature of news production and cross-cultural mediation. Based on human stories drawn from three years of field research in Turkey, this book unfolds as a series of narratives of fixers' career trajectories during a period when the international media spotlight shone on Turkey and Syria. From the Syrian Civil War, Gezi Park protest movement, rise of authoritarianism in Turkey and of ISIS in Syria, to the rekindling of conflict in both countries' Kurdish regions and Turkey's 2016 coup attempt, Arjomand brings to light vivid personal accounts and insider perspectives on world-shaking events alongside analysis of the role fixers have played in bringing news of Turkey and Syria to international audiences.
PRAISE FOR FIXING STORIES
"an excellent account of how international reporting is really done.... Arjomand’s dissection of fixing and its natural flaws is a great new helpmate in maintaining our vigilance as we search for truth or objectivity in news from foreign parts."
Hugh Pope, British Journalism Review
"Fixing Stories is a fascinating journey backstage where the actual work is done before the news reaches the audience. For rookie journalists, it is an invaluable blueprint on the ins and outs of international news reporting; for experienced hacks, the book is an insightful read examining a period that exerted significant sway on the political trajectory of Turkey. "
Elif Zaim, LSE Review of Books
"unique, original, and interesting... eye-opening... highly recommended."
R. W. Olson, Choice
"In this subtle and reflective book... Arjomand uses novelistic techniques—composite characters in carefully composed circumstances—to both protect his sources and convey a complex and fascinating world with wit, intelligence, and sympathy."
Lisa Anderson, Foreign Affairs
"Fixing Stories offers a thoughtful and immersive dive... fixers are often invisible, but one can hope with a study like this there shall be more light on the vital work that they do."
Usman Butt, Middle East Monitor
"The book offers exceptional advice for journalists regarding the ethical implications of organizing and producing stories... a beneficial tool for undergraduate students majoring in to learn about specific techniques such as interviewing, gathering information, and writing news stories."
Ahmed Alrawi. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly
"By what strange magic does something happening on the ground become international news? Arjomand takes us into the fascinating world of fixers, local people whose insider knowledge enables journalists to write their stories, and lays bare the complex and morally fraught relationship between the two."
Jenny White, Stockholm University
“Noah Arjomand puts himself inside the world of “news fixers,” and comes away with a rich account of how they balance the expectations of their source informants on home ground in Turkey or Syria and the pressing demands from global media people just passing through. Vivid moments from the precarious lives of these fixers are woven together skilfully into an absorbing text that reads like a screenplay for a terrific ensemble film—the prose sparkles throughout.”
Thomas F. Gieryn, Indiana University
"This wonderfully original book helped me understand my own career as a foreign correspondent. With its innovative methods and fine-grained research, Fixing Stories will surely become a valuable resource for journalists and media scholars alike."
Matthieu Aikins, contributing writer, New York Times Magazine, and author of The Naked Don't Fear the Water: An Underground Journey with Afghan Refugees
"With its ethnographic breadth and creative take on writing, Fixing Stories poses a powerful caveat to so many grand theories of journalism and media that are blind to the emergence of truth in practice. Arjomand weaves a refined story between multiple moral worlds of journalism in Turkey and Syria, places deeply ridden with both historical and contemporary conflicts over fixing the truth. Fixing Stories provides the reader with a rare window on journalism, cultivating the mundane shapes the grand narratives take during the practice of journalism."
Suncem Koçer, Kadir Has University
"A fascinating journey across the complex and hitherto unexplored world of fixers as they attempt to create a fragile unity among disparate worlds and unify the moral universes of multiple audiences. Fixing Stories ultimately alerts us to how all knowledge is mediated through chains of brokerage."
Mona Baker, University of Oslo
"How is public knowledge mediated and interpreted in our contemporary world? Rather than taking such knowledge at face value, Arjomand brilliantly constructs how and why various social actors mediate public narratives by 'fixing' them behind the scenes. His empirical analysis of this process specifically in Turkey and Syria ensures that the topics covered are especially challenging and potentially dangerous. A must read for everyone interested in how power, knowledge and narrative intersect to shape our social reality."
Fatma Müge Göçek, University of Michigan
“Arjomand explores the inner life of the fixer, an invisible - yet critical - player in international reporting. With compassionate curiosity, Fixing Stories examines the stresses, self-doubts and conflicting loyalties of a role mediating between correspondent and source in a high-pressure situation. Required reading for any journalist heading out into the field.”
Gregory Warner, Host of NPR’s Rough Translation
Related interviews, articles, videos, excerpts, etc:
"Empirical Fiction: Composite Character Narratives and Analytical Sociology," The American Sociologist
"Figuring Ethnographic Fiction," American Anthropologist
Interview, Turkey Book Talk Podcast
"The Precarious Lives of Fixers—Journalism's Essential but Uncredited Go-Betweens," MENA Democracy in Exile
"Fixing Stories: The Fixer/Reporter Relationship," Frontline Club
Book launch, Indiana University
"Introduction: A Tale of Two Fixers," Cambridge University Press excerpt