All Strung Out: My Thankless, Chaotic Life as a Newspaper Stringer
Inside the high-octane, all-guts-no-glory existence of journalism's unsung heroes.
There’s this fleeting, elastic moment that every newspaper stringer experiences, this fraction of a second that bounces around in his brain like a laser light show in a science museum, wavering wildly between excitement, desperation, fulfillment and fear. This moment may come in between forkfuls of food, while sitting on the toilet, while sitting shiva, while lovemaking, or while making toast. For the stringer—freelance reporter extraordinaire who bounces between scenes of breaking news, stringing together “quotes and color” for a writer back at the office, and who is, perhaps, simultaneously strung along by a news organization’s unspoken suggestion of future health benefits and a full-time position—the important thing is that this moment comes at all. And it comes with a phone call.
Oftentimes, a man like Dean Chang, city editor at The New York Times, is on the other end of the line. There’s been a possible homicide, or a double homicide, or a triple, Chang …