As freelancers, stringers do not receive a regular salary and the amount and type of work is typically voluntary. However, stringers often have an ongoing relationship with one or more news organizations, to which they provide content on particular topics or locations when the opportunities arise.
The term is typically confined to news industry jargon, and in print or in broadcast terms, stringers are sometimes referred to as correspondents or contributors. At other times, they may not receive any public recognition for the work they have contributed.
A reporter or photographer can "string" for a news organization in a number of different capacities and with varying degrees of regularity, so that the relationship between the organization and the stringer is typically very loose. When it is difficult for a staff reporter or photographer to reach a location quickly for breaking news stories, larger news organizations often rely on local stringers to provide rapid scene descriptions, quotations or photos. In this capacity, stringers are used heavily by most television news organizations and some print publications for video footage, photos, and interviews.
A superstringer is a long-term freelance journalist. He or she is usually a contract worker for one or more news organizations. Traditionally, stringers freelance for a period of time and then become employed full-time by a news organization, but with the collapse of the traditional newspaper advertising model and the emergence of the Internet, many stringers are becoming superstringers.