In defence of Guyon Espiner


By Duncan Garner, RadioLIVE Drive host  

I want to declare four conflicts of interests before I write this:

1. I work with Guyon closely
2. I used to work against him daily
3. He is one of the best journalists in the country
4. He is one of my best mates

So I start writing this piece from this position.

Usually him and I would just lean on a bar in a pub and talk about journalism and the characters that surround the stories and the critics. We’re passionate about what we do. I have never felt the need to write something like this.

But I do now.

I think many commentators over the past few days have been enormously ungenerous and miserable in their commentary on his Shane Jones piece on 3rd Degree last week. It was a profile piece on Jones. Behind the scenes with Jones. They’re enormously common on NZ television.

Calls from commentators (some of whom only leave their office for a business junket) for Guyon to give Jones the third degree on policy are so wide of the mark, it’s simply laughable.

That wasn’t the point of the piece.

If Jones becomes leader, we will all give him tough interviews on where he stands on all sorts of things. Guyon has given more politicians the third degree than most working journalists in this country. Most will tell you he’s the sharpest and most sophisticated political interviewer they’ve ever come across. He’s prepared, researched and forensic. To suggest Guyon went ‘soft’ is simply not credible. And I think you know it.

Where were you when Guyon was doing 3rd Degree and 60 minutes stories on the Bill Liu case? A twenty minute investigation uncovering the complex immigration case involving Shane Jones and Dover Samuels? It was brilliant and it almost nailed Jones.

Where were the critics when he investigated the workings of Ross Asset Management? The biggest pyramid scheme in New Zealand’s history. David Ross is heading to jail.

Where were the critics when he went into Tuhoe and told the story of the settlement?

Where were the critics when he did an investigation into seabed mining?

Where were the critics when he did an investigation into people smuggling into NZ?

Where were the critics when he uncovered that NZ was actually a tax-haven for wealthy foreigners?

Where were the critics when he got Sir Doug Graham to front?

Where were the critics when he did a story on dirty dairy farming in NZ?

Where were the critics when he did a story on the SkyCity plans for a Convention Centre?

Where were the critics when he did a story on fracking in Taranaki?

None of these stories are soft or populist. Indeed, they are actually hard to get onto prime-time current affairs; it’s a constant battle, actually.

Guyon can hardly be accused of doing soft, populist, women’s magazine stories. I’m sure our producers at times wish he would. But he is true to himself. That I know.

His pieces are serious, thorough and heavy-weight examples of journalism. And that’s why I’m going into bat for him: He is one of our best journalists and interviewers.

The bile from the outside looks like a bunch of past it green-eyed monsters to me.

source: data archive