Pappas shuts down news in Reno

Pappas Telecasting Companies closed down all news programming on its Reno, NV, stations, KREN-TV, a CW affiliate, and KAZR-TV, a Tu Visión affiliate. The shut down was a blow to so-called one-man-band video journalist (VJ) news for television.

The final news broadcasts on both KREN and KAZR, all with VJ-originated newscasts, aired on March 10. The elimination of news at the Nevada stations is partly the result of the impending sale of some Pappas Telecasting properties and partly because the stations didn’t see adequate advertising revenues to justify the expense of the news division.

“KREN/KAZR is one of the first truly bilingual newsrooms in the United States. KREN was one of the first stations in the country to implement a community journalism website, Community Correspondent, a place where citizens can post their own video, pictures and community news,” said Harry J. Pappas, chairman and CEO of Pappas Telecasting.

In addition, KAZR was one of the first HD newscasts in the country to broadcast in Spanish. KREN was also one of the first locally produced 10:00 p.m. newscasts in the Reno market.

Dennis Davis, COO of Pappas, said “its important to be clear that this is not a performance-related issue with the KREN and KAZR staffs. The video journalists, producers, anchors, and news managers have given their best efforts to produce a product that we can all be proud of.”

Nineteen employees will be displaced by the decision. “Where possible,” said Pappas, “we are looking to relocate news personnel at other Pappas news-producing stations in other markets.”

However, Jessie Gutierrez, director of Nevada Hispanic Services, told the “Reno Gazette-Journal,” that the 19 employees who lost their jobs are exploring legal action against Pappas.

Gutierrez said the Spanish-language station would lose its Hispanic viewership without the news division. “Today or tomorrow Pappas Telecasting can sell KREN and KAZR and make millions and live happily ever after, but their employees are only getting a weeks severance pay,” Gutierrez said. “I feel it’s unjust.”

Pappas owns 27 stations, including FOX, The CW, ABC, CBS, TuVisión, and MyNetwork TV affiliates, and operates four other stations pursuant to local marketing agreements.