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By Pete Vonder Haar | June 19, 2006

“Stringers” examines the relatively unknown world of freelance video journalism. Simply put, stringers monitor police scanners for accidents, crimes, and other activities so that they can drive out to the scene, film the goings-on without getting run off by the police, and (hopefully) sell the footage to television outlets. It is, by all appearances, a solitary and all-consuming occupation.

This short documentary gives us a glimpse of how these guys end up getting involved in their work, the ethical dilemmas involved in their profession (hinted at, but not plumbed thoroughly thanks to time constraints), and the utter lack of a personal life spending your evenings monitoring police traffic entails. For, as everyone knows, the one night you decide to hang out with your friends will be the night someone plants a bomb in city hall.

But it is just a glimpse, as it turns out. At 11 minutes, “Stringers” only offers a brief look into the lives of these men and merely touches upon their obvious personality and professional conflicts. The obvious parallel, thanks to the setting and the on-the-street documentary style, is to the long-running television show “COPS,” though that program never involves itself with the personal lives of its protagonists. Hopefully this short will lead to a more in-depth undertaking.

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