Former KTSM-TV (NBC Ch.9) anchorwoman and El Paso native Michelle Valles was perhaps too nice a person to ever succeed in the often caustic world of television news, although five years at the state cap ain't bad. Word from Austin is that Valles has been effectively booted from her job as top co-anchor at KXAN-TV (NBC Ch.36). Contract negotiations appear to have ended, according to news reports, perhaps hastened by lingering hard feelings over her DWI arrest last year. The truth is, TV news in Austin and everywhere else has become a very, very rough sport. Another recent El Paso expatriate - Erika Castillo, aka Erika Ruiz - found this out just recently at her last TV job in Albuquerque. Station managers have begun to play extreme hardball with their high-priced news anchors and reporters. As advertising revenues continue to slide into the dumper, many stations have begun a slow but determined process of gutting their news operations in order to save money. It's happening at another Austin station, KEYE-TV (CBS Ch. 42) where a handful of news staffers were let go last week. Some think the station is on verge of closing down its newsroom. Great anchor contracts with locked-in guarantees of six-figure salaries, game tickets, clothing and hair salon visits are becoming a thing of the past. Bracero wages and a bag of peanuts for lunch is more the norm these days. I don't expect Valles to pop back up in El Paso. After a taste of Sixth Street and Driskill's Grill, I'm sure the lure of Chico's Tacos is not that strong.