Thanks to Philip Kennicott ["A World-Stopping Moment Lost in the News Buzz," Style, Sept. 4] for capturing the television media's bizarre handling of the three big stories during the first week of September: Hurricane Frances, former president Bill Clinton's heart surgery, and a week's worth of terrorism in Russia that culminated in the deaths of hundreds of children, teachers and parents. Unfortunately, the TV media reported the events in that order.

I was preparing my child for the first day of school when the news appeared of parents, young children and teachers being held hostage in Beslan. Even Timothy McVeigh with his chilling use of the term "collateral damage," al Qaeda with its attacks on civilians in our commercial centers and the Palestinians with their bus bombings have not filled a school with bombs and made demands that would not be met.

If it hadn't been for a few papers such as The Post, we would have known little of this atrocity other than a few disturbing images that flashed sporadically between ad nauseam coverage of Frances, which by then was not even a hurricane but a Category 2 hurricane, and armchair doctors pontificating about a surgery done on 300,000 Americans a year.

I am not a fan of stop-the-world coverage, such as that surrounding former president Ronald Reagan's death. But certainly the gravity of the offense and the looming uncertainty surrounding the spike in terrorism in Russia should give Americans pause. We all worry about school safety. Add to that reports of possible links between Chechen rebels and al Qaeda, and I wonder what is next.

For a decade the media have been caught up with the idea of giving audiences what they think viewers want, rather than using professional judgment to prioritize the news. We have no end of people who can speculate about civil trials of celebrities or about what tactics might improve a politician's poll ratings. Long overdue is a little more time on world events that quickly could become our own.

LISA DANIEL

Burke