Outlet Podcast: Guyon Espiner

3 minutes read
Posted 19 March, 2024
Guyon Espiner

Renowned journalist Guyon Espiner shares his insights on the media industry, New Zealand's drinking culture and more on this week's episode of The Outlet Queenstown podcast.

He talks with host Brent Harbour, ahead of appearing on the sold-out 'Breakfast with Papers' panel at Aspiring Conversations in Wānaka on 6 April, with fellow journalists Paddy Gower and Susie Ferguson.

With the looming closure of Newshub and massive job cuts at TVNZ, Espiner says the situation is a bleak as he's seen it in his 30-year career in newspapers, TV and radio.

"... it's fair to say that for all of my career, media companies struggle and have struggled, but I've never seen anything like this.

"This is really, you know, looking fairly apocalyptic and it is deeply worrying."

Espiner also talks about the $55 million Public Interest Journalism Fund, which funds The Outlet Podcast, dismantling the idea it was a government bribe for media, and also emphasises the critical need for trustworthy, independent journalism.

"You don't have to look far around the world see examples of countries which don't have a strong media, and that means they don't have a strong democracy or often strong systems of government as well."

He talks about AI, the 'fake news' rhetoric and the disinformation crisis, and Trump's impact on the media landscape in the US.


Espiner's book The Drinking Game analyses how New Zealand's drinking culture is shaped not only by individual choice, but also by government, media and big business.

In the podcast, he discusses the alcohol industry's political influence and aggressive lobbying, as well as his own personal journey to sobriety.

"The thing that really struck me when I gave up drinking in 2019, it was about mid-2019, was that, you know, I'd been a heavy drinker for 35, 30 years and no one had ever said to me you know, 'why do you drink so much?'

"But when I stopped drinking, people were like, 'why aren't you drinking?' And you know, it was just like the whole burden of proof, if you like, was reversed and I felt a lot of social pressure to justify why I wasn't taking a class one carcinogen, which is quite a bizarre thing when you think about it."

Alcohol has become ingrained into "every aspect of our lives", he says, from 'wetting the baby's head' at birth to marriage, work and death, and with sponsorship and major and community sporting events, is ever present.

"... I love going to pubs, love going out, no problem with that. But it just allowed me, when I stepped out of that drinking culture totally, to see it was with new eyes and question some of those things.

"And I think that's what we need to do and spend a lot of time doing that journalism."


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