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Readers shelve remotes and grab their pens

Keep those e-mails Ñ not to mention cards, letters and irate phone calls Ñ coming. I take it all in good spirit, especially considering that reader feedback makes for a decent column every so often.

• How is it that TV news seems so familiar that it almost appears to be scripted by the same person? The topics and the time are often close enough that one can turn from station to station and see the same story being run. Is this a coincidence?

Ñ Tom Owen

Not at all. In most cases, there is general agreement among the TV newsrooms on what constitutes the top stories of the day. Call it pack journalism Ñ or, better yet, a shared view of what audiences will watch based on newspeople's experience, marketing knowledge and views drummed into their heads by broadcast news consultants. Many of the stories featured on the local news are taken from the Associated Press wire service, which in turn gets a lot of its stories from newspapers.

In the words of esteemed journalist Walter Lippman, 'When everyone thinks alike, no one thinks very much.'

• All I get out of 'West Wing' is people walking down dark interiors and slurring monosyllables as they communicate. I guess they are creating tension in the viewer. Am I the only one complaining?

Ñ Dick Lodwig

No. Watch television dramas from 20 years ago and you'd think somebody was replaying them back at slow speed. The longer chunks of dialogue and soliloquy we used to see regularly are gone.

With 'West Wing' and other dramas losing viewership to reality shows, you have to wonder about their future É at least their immediate future.

That said, some of the most stilted interplay comes to us now not in dramas but from the Mensa candidates who turn up on the network reality shows. I'm still waiting for 'Joe Millionaire' to utter three consecutive sentences.

• I thought KOIN (6)'s Karen Adams did a great job as anchor, but then I thought Shirley Hancock did very well, too. But what do I know?

Ñ Moma Escriva

Turns out a lot Ñ because I agree with you. The ways of anchordom are strange and unpredictable. I thought Adams and Hancock were just fine. In the case of KOIN, the station has made a decision to go with the folks who have a solid track record in Portland Ñ Jeff Gianola, Julie Emry and Mike Donahue. But while anchors are still the primary reason why people choose one newscast over another, many other factors are at work.

• Is it just us or does KPTV (12) avoid issues like PERS and the new governor's challenges to concentrate on crime and soft news stories?

Ñ Harlan Simantel

There's no question that when KPTV switched to Fox, it assumed that its audience would become a lot younger and more likely to watch a newscast jampacked with shootings and murders, as opposed to retirement plans and budget battles. We'll see how successful that assumption is after KGW's 10 p.m. newscast on PAX has had a year or so to find viewers.

• So long as the stations choose to follow their consultants' advice to be little more than televised police blotters, I'll have better things to do with my time. I don't care how attractive Laural Porter is.

Ñ Alan Willis

I'm sure Laural will be happy to hear that. But KGW (8) has taken the lead in striving to cover more issue-oriented stories, and obviously this approach has worked Ñ KGW is No. 1 in the ratings.

Pete Schulberg is the host of 'Portland's Morning News' on KPAM (860 AM). Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..