Epitomizing the hostility encountered on all sides by journalists these days are such questions as: "Why do you emphasize so much bad news?" "Why is that any of your business?" and "Who elected you?"

In "Beyond Malice," an insightful report on public dissatisfaction with the national news media's performance, Richard Clurman presents an insider's view of the causes and possible easing of the growing tension."One of the most frequent - and valid - criticisms of the news media," Clurman writes, "is that they almost never report on themselves and only sparingly on one another. That habit is made worse by the undeniable fact that they have become one of the most powerful institutions in the United States."

Clurman suggests that increased coverage of, and increased access to, the media are needed to deal with its worst faults.

"It takes no elaborate planning or invention," he says, "for the news media to cover and criticize their own performance and practices with the same determination and enterprise with which they report everyone else's."

Another step the media can take, he notes, is to "drop their reluctance to give the public adequate ways to reply after the press has spoken."

The cry for fairness and responsibility as the price of success and press freedom is louder than ever, he says, and the conflict between personal privacy and media privilege has shaken the confidence of both journalists and the public.

Clurman has impressive credentials to back up his views. He was editorial director of Newsday; editor-writer of Time's press section, chief of worldwide correspondents of Time-Life news service, and editorial vice president of Time-Life broadcast.