TV3 has pulled off a PR coup by enticing three top journalists away from TVNZ this week.

Following closely behind TVNZ political editor Guyon Espiner's decision to jump ship, award-winning Close Up producer Kate McCallum has defected to rival Campbell Live.

And Christchurch-based reporter Tom McRae also joined the exodus and will replace entertainment reporter David Farrier, who is taking a break from journalism.

TV3 news boss Mark Jennings described the trio of former TVNZ staffers as "true journalists" who he had been keeping an eye on for some time.


He said: "For us, journalism comes first. We are not so interested in American presentation techniques - we are more interested in breaking stories."

It emerged that Jennings offered Espiner the 60 Minutes role over lunch at upmarket Wellington restaurant Pravda this month.

Espiner said he had mulled it over for 10 days, and decided the opportunity to work in a longer format current affairs show was great.

He said he was looking forward to finding stories about "real people" after more than a decade in the press gallery.

"Politicians are so guarded in their language and an answer is given for a vested reason and they have to toe the party line."

His good friend and TV3 political editor Duncan Garner had been a sounding board in the decision but "wasn't driving the boat".

His fiance Emma Wehipeihana has found a job at a recruitment company in Auckland.

McCallum won the best current affairs gong with reporter Mark Crysell at the Aotearoa Film and Television Awards recently for their story on the death of King's College student James Webster.

McCallum also had a second nomination for the same award.

During a long career at TVNZ, McCallum contracted the MRSA superbug while revealing poor resthome conditions in 2009.