FROM THOSE WHO WATCH THE NEWS

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE Washington Post Magazine and Marjorie Williams for performing a public service by revealing the true sensationalism versus real news philosophy of Channel 4 to your public {"Behind the Screens," May 13}.

As a very interested observer of the controversy surrounding the death of Gregory Habib during his arrest by Prince George's County police one year ago, I am well acquainted with the facts of the case. I can attest to the fact that TV 4 appeared only minimally interested in these facts as opposed to the sensationalist value of the story. At that time, News 4 demonstrated a definite anti-police slant in its reporting, a bias not evident in the print media articles or the other TV news broadcasts. That entertainment rather than news is the philosophy of Channel 4 News was well-captured by Ms. Williams's report. J. WILLIAM KERPELMAN Hedgesville, W. Va.

THOSE OF US WHO HAVE WORKED IN television news departments in other cities couldn't agree more with your portrayal of Channel 4 and the other local television news departments. They truly are a mile wide and an inch deep, and incapable of handling major stories.

Television news viewers in this market are being insulted and ill-informed by news formulas that went out of style years ago in other, credible newsrooms. We still have fire scenes (without flames); commonplace though unfortunate shootings (with the requisite blood-on-the-sidewalk shot); and ratings-consultant-generated elementary-level reports on health and consumer issues delivered by a pseudo-expert "investigative type" reporter who talks down to people.

Please forget your demographically pure features and formats, and your phony friendliness. Just go and gather the hard news that is there, expose the violations of the public trust -- and tell us straightforwardly what is going on. Get back to substance, with less emphasis on style. MICHAEL RUSSELL Sterling

YOUR ARTICLE ABOUT CHANNEL 4 makes some very valid points. Ms. Williams points out many of the reasons why I left TV news a few years ago, and why today I rarely watch any news broadcasts.

A television journalist is, indeed, a slave to video. Personalities are vastly overrated. There are many pretty faces delivering news they only vaguely comprehend. Moreover, the content is limited and suffers from a lack of journalistic supervision, as you point out. Yet, the overriding feeling I had upon reading your article is that your criticism and condescension were hypocritical.

The same shortcomings exist in print journalism. You too depend on emotionalism in many of your stories, both in the writing and selection of them. Most stories have an "angle." They are no more a comprehensive look at all sides of a story than is television news.

Please spare us the holier-than-thou attitude regarding television's dependence on made-up news. ROBERT J. GRIENDLING Fairfax

THIS PAST SEMESTER I HAD THE OPPORtunity to do an internship at WRC-TV. From the people in the mailroom to the anchors and weather people, from the announcer to the second-in-command of NBC's Washington news bureau, everyone seemed ready to take the time to answer questions or give career advice. As individuals, they all seemed quite willing and extremely talented, but as a whole, something was missing.

When I asked about this tension, someone responded that they missed the family atmosphere they had had under RCA. Everything now was strictly business. I can't imagine what the station -- with its good intentions toward the community and its excellent news teams -- would be able to do with more funds and more staff. ALISON SANDLER Washington

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