Because of an editing error, the date when smallmouth bass were introduced to the Shenandoah and Potomac watersheds was incorrect in the letters to the editor column in last Sunday's Magazine. They were introduced in the 1850s. (Published 12/9/90)


LAST SPRING I ATTENDED A LOCAL press banquet, at which Helen Thomas was the guest speaker. As a journalism student, I was thrilled to hear anecdotes of her 30 years as a member of the White House press corps.

Amanda Spake's article on Ms. Thomas {"Thirty Years at the White House," October 21} shed some light on the woman behind the byline. It focused on her longevity with UPI, and on her persistence and determination as a reporter. Clearly, Ms. Thomas was instrumental in helping women of the press to gain acceptance.

Unfortunately, the article overlooked one of Ms. Thomas's finest qualities -- her sharp sense of humor. LISA CLAGETT Silver Spring

THE COVER STORY ON HELEN THOMAS of UPI was a wonderful tribute to a great lady. There was only one sour note.

"Nearly every reporter" interviewed by the writer for the article charged that Thomas sometimes asks too many pro-Arab questions at White House news conferences. Thomas is of Arab Lebanese descent. Would those same reporters dare to accuse another of Jewish descent of asking too many pro-Israel questions?

It is time for all Americans -- starting with our media representatives -- to stop this ugly bias against Arab people. The burning issue in the Middle East is not one of either exclusively Israeli or Arab concerns. Our and their greatest need is to be able to see one another's common humanity. Helen Thomas herself shows us what a magnificent person an Arab can be! SUZANNE NICOLE Reston

HELEN THOMAS IS AN "ANACHRONISM"? A dinosaur is more like it! I stopped watching press conferences many years ago because of her and her kind: people with too much influence, who use it to intimidate and abuse our presidents. I got the impression that their whole thrust was to manifest the "I got more juice than you" syndrome, rather than seek actual news and ask pertinent questions. I dislike the idea that she and her ilk are always placed in the choice locations, instead of having some sort of equitable rotation with the other correspondents.

I cannot understand why there isn't a more equal arrangement, one in which questions are written, selected at random and answered by the speaker without the press even being present. This would eliminate the infighting and duplication now present, and give the guy from Peoria as much attention as the favored ones from the influential news services. NORMAN L. KOCH Kensington FISH OF A DIFFERENT STRIPE

AS A REFUGEE FROM NORTHERN VIRginia who migrated to the Shenandoah Valley 15 years ago, I enjoyed James Conaway's article on this region in the October 21 issue. In particular, the Tom Wolff photo of Bennie's Restaurant did a masterful job of capturing its rough-and-ready honky-tonk atmosphere.

But, to pick a nit: We can be assured that the only smallmouth bass fishing George Washington did here was in his imagination. Piscatorial historians tell us that the species was not introduced to the Shenandoah and Potomac watersheds until the 1950s, having hitchhiked across the Appalachian Mountains in the tender of a B&O steam locomotive. If he found any time for fishing during his surveying and military expeditions, poor George would have had to settle for the brook trout! REESE BULL Staunton, Va.

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