The Dark Side of Journalism
The Culture and Political Economy of Global Media in Pakistan and Afghanistan


“Ashraf penetratingly explores the mesh of global journalistic hierarchies, capitalism and neo-imperialism in one of the world’s most dangerous war zones the historically fractious Pashtun Belt straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan. Readers concerned with the politics of intellectual labor in war reporting should grasp this book for its fresh analyses and grounded information.”
-John D.H. Downing, Chief Editor, Sage Handbook of Media Studies


“Reporting from FATA-Afghanistan-Pakistan, the ground zero of news production today – where imperialism, capitalism, and religious fundamentalism collude to constantly displace people from their homes and lives – Syed Irfan Ashraf reveals how the ubiquitous ‘fixer’ is not just another professional category in journalism, but its nadir. From his own experience as a ‘fixer’, Ashraf shows how the global media capitalist machine literally feeds on the life and work of local journalists, mutilating them into its ‘eyes and ears’, and the terrible costs extracted in return for the fundamental human desire to be seen and heard; to speak back to an international public and not just be its victim or other. Thinking like Marx, Ashraf explains how the ‘fixer’ is a role, imposed by the process of proletarianization and its dehumanizing consequences, not only for journalists, but society as a whole.
-Jyotsna Kapur, Professor, Cinema and Media Studies, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, US


“This book offers a unique perspective on regional journalism. Documenting a history of impunity against progressive voices, it probes how the local journalists in Pakistan are agents and victims at the same time in the violent power politics… As a working journalist-turned-academic, Ashraf’s twenty-five years of experience also offer an insight into what the future holds for journalists (and journalism) in Pakistan’s periphery as well as its urban centers.”
-Faizullah Jan, Chair, Department of Journalism & Mass Communication, University of Peshawar


The Dark Side of Journalism provides a local journalist’s perspective on the role of “fixers” local journalists hired to help global media outlets report on wars over the past four decades. Fixers enable global media to access news about al-Qaida and the Taliban in distant regions and dangerous caves on Pakistan and Afghanistan’s borders. Their risky pursuits have led to unprecedented death rates of local reporters during the U.S.-led war on terror. The Dark Side of Journalism illustrates both the essentiality of fixers to global news production, as well as their utter dispensability.


Irfan Ashraf has a PhD in mass communication and media arts (MCMA) from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale and is an assistant professor at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Peshawar, Pakistan.


Publisher: Folio Books

Publishing date: May 2023

ISBN: 978-969-7834-50-1

Binding: Paperback

Rights: South Asia

Availability: In Stock

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The Culture and Political Economy of Global Media in Pakistan and Afghanistan

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