Jon Snow

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Person.png Jon Snow   SourcewatchRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(television presenter)
Jon Snow1.jpg
Jon Snow, the face of Channel 4 News since 1989
BornJon Snow
Ardingly, Sussex, England
SpousePrecious Lunga
UK corporate media journalist

Jon Snow (born 28 September 1947) is an English journalist and TV presenter, longest-running presenter of Channel 4 News.

In March 2017 he was awarded the 2017 Horace Greeley Award for Best Fake News Journalist by 21st Century Wire because "After mounting a horrendous year pumping out continuous fake news and lies about Syria, Channel 4 thought it prudent to run their own ‘Fake News Week’ supposedly to lecture everyone else about how things are in media, and they even dressed-up news anchor Jon Show and ran a horrible comedy skit designed to lambast other news sources, only it back fired, and C4 looked stupid in the process. As it turns out, it was Snow who conducted one of the worst interviews in broadcast TV history, as he tried to railroad Syrian MP from Aleppo with a series of standard failed talking points likely issued by the Foreign Office."[1]


Snow won a choral scholarship at Winchester Cathedral, and spent five years at The Pilgrims' School. He was then educated at Ardingly College, where his father was headmaster. In 2013, he recounted how the inquiry into Jimmy Savile had allowed him to re-evaluate his own childhood when he was molested by one of the school's domestic staff.[2] Snow subsequently attended St Edward's School in Oxford. When he was 18 he spent a year as a VSO volunteer teaching in Uganda. After mixed success in his first attempt to pass his A-level qualifications, he moved to the Yorkshire Coast College, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, where he later obtained the necessary qualifications to gain a place studying law at the University of Liverpool. However, he did not complete the degree, being rusticated for his part in a 1970 anti-apartheid student protest, which he later described as "an absolute watershed in my life".[3] However, he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters at Liverpool University in 2011.[4]


Jon Snow joined ITN in 1976. Since then, he has travelled the world to cover the news – from the fall of the Berlin Wall and the release of Nelson Mandela, to Barack Obama's inauguration and the earthquake in Haiti.[5]

Jon Snow served as ITN's Washington correspondent (1983–1986) and as diplomatic editor (1986–1989) before becoming the main presenter of Channel 4 News in 1989. In 1992 he was the main anchor for ITN's Election Night programme, broadcast on ITV; he presented the programme alongside Robin Day, Alastair Stewart and Julia Somerville. (Previously ITN's programme had typically been presented by Alastair Burnet, who left ITN in 1991. The 1992 election night programme was the only one hosted by Snow. He was replaced by Jonathan Dimbleby from 1997 onwards.) He has won several Royal Television Society Awards – two for reports from El Salvador, one for his reporting of the Kegworth air disaster and two as "Presenter of the Year".

In 2002 he returned to radio, presenting Jon Snow Reports on Oneword Radio, a weekly show and podcast. He wrote regular articles for the Channel 4 News website and Snowmail – a daily email newsletter on the big stories coming up on the evening edition of Channel 4 News.

He is known for his vast collection of colourful ties and socks.[6]

On 14 June 2011, Snow presented the multiple award-winning investigative documentary Sri Lanka's Killing Fields, directed by Callum Macrae, which documented war crimes committed in the final days of the Sri Lankan conflict in 2009. The programme consisted of some of the most horrific footage ever broadcast in the UK; its second part, "War Crimes Unpunished" was broadcast in March 2012.[7]

Snow declined an Order of the British Empire (OBE) because he believes working journalists should not take honours from those about whom they report.[8][9]

Memorable incidents

Whilst working as a journalist in Uganda, he flew sitting next to president Idi Amin in the presidential jet. He has recounted how whilst Amin appeared to be asleep he thought seriously about taking Amin's revolver and shooting him dead, but was worried about the consequences of firing a loose round in a jet.[10]

In 1976, Snow rejected an approach by the British intelligence services to spy on his colleagues. At first he was asked to supply information about the Communist Party, but he was then asked to spy on certain "left-wing people" working in television.[11] In return he would have received secret monthly, tax-free payments into his bank account, matching his then salary.[12][13]

On 16 November 1992, Jon Snow interviewed Patrick Haseldine at the Clock Tower Café in Ongar by satellite link-up for Channel 4 News in relation to a letter about the Arms-to-Iraq affair published that morning by The Guardian.[14] The interview was not actually broadcast since it was overtaken by that day's late announcement of the setting up and terms of reference of the Scott Inquiry.

On 27 June 2003, at the height of the "dodgy dossier" affair, Alastair Campbell walked into the studio to rebut statements by the BBC's Andrew Gilligan. Without notes or preparation, Snow questioned Campbell about the affair.[15]

In 2004, Snow published an autobiography, "Shooting History".

He refuses to wear any symbol which may represent his views on air; in the run up to Remembrance Day, he condemned what he called 'Poppy Fascism' because "in the end there really must be more important things in life than whether a news presenter wears symbols on his lapels".[16]

On 28 February 2008, Snow courted more controversy by claiming that the silence of the British media on the decision to allow Prince Harry to fight in Afghanistan was unacceptable, with the following statement:[17]

"I never thought I'd find myself saying thank God for Drudge. The infamous US blogger has broken the best kept editorial secret of recent times. Editors have been sworn to secrecy over Prince Harry being sent to fight in Afghanistan three months ago."

These remarks provoked criticism from some members of the public and other media outlets,[18] with some accusing Snow of wishing to undermine the safety of the Prince and his troops and (according to Snow himself at the end of that day's bulletin and later reported in the Daily Mail) one captain in the armed forces called Snow's actions "treason".[19]

On 9 February 2009, Snow interviewed Lt-Col Yvonne Bradley, the military counsel for Binyam Mohamed, a British resident detained for five years at Guantanamo Bay. Snow asked if Mohamed's allegations of torture were justified. Lt-Col Bradley said there was no doubt at all that he had been tortured.[20] Mohamed was released and returned to Britain on 23 February 2009.

In November 2010 Snow was sent to Haiti to report on the cholera outbreak.[21]

"Dynamite revelations" about Lockerbie

In June 2011, Jon Snow reported "dynamite revelations" over payments made to prosecution witnesses whose evidence led to the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing:

While Libya continues to burn, an eerie silence has descended over the British media’s interest in reopening the uncertainties surrounding the Lockerbie bombing. The occasional defecting Libyan minister has pretended to hold previously untold secrets, but nothing has come of them.
It was left to Al Jazeera English to try to lance the boil last Thursday when the channel broadcast an explosive documentary on the subject. The programme makers had gained access to the unpublished report of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission into the case.
Even more importantly, they managed to see the notebooks and diaries of the Scottish and American investigators written at the time. These were also in the possession of the Review Commission.
In short, the diaries make a blistering allegation – that the central Maltese witness whose testimony was key to convicting Abdelbaset al-Megrahi – had been bribed. The diaries record the apparent “offer of inducements made to Tony Gauci”, the Maltese shopkeeper who identified clothes that were found in the suitcase that carried the bomb on the plane, as having been bought at his shop by al-Megrahi.
Tony Gauci’s brother, Paul, it is claimed, in the same diaries as having “a clear desire to gain financial benefit”. The Review Commission's own report states that after the trial Tony Gauci was paid $2 million, and that brother Paul got $1 million reward money.
If true, these would be completely dynamite revelations. Of course, they would have come out in the appeal that Megrahi’s release prevented happening. It is inconceivable that this Scottish Review Commission’s report would not have surfaced at such an appeal. Does this perhaps explain why he was eventually bundled so speedily out of the country?
But the other question remains… why was it left to Al Jazeera to make these allegations?[22]

Journalistic fisticuffs

In 2013, Snow had a dispute with broadcaster Charlie Brooker about video games in which Snow claimed the game Lego Marvel Super Heroes was violent. Later in the programme, Brooker referred to Snow as being "like a dog at the controls of a helicopter" when he was confused at how to control the character in the game.

In early 2014, he had a heated debate with comedian and actor Russell Brand[23] who appeared in a Channel 4 interview about his petition for a debate on the UK drug laws.

Snow on Gaza

In July 2014, during the latest Israeli war on Gaza, Snow interviewed Israeli spokesman Mark Regev about Israel's killing of Palestinian children, including four children playing on a Gaza beach. Regev responded that it was Hamas and not Israel who was responsible for the Israeli military hitting the children with an Israeli missile.[24] Snow concluded by asking Regev:

"Why won't you speak with Hamas directly? You haven't got the courage."[25] Shortly after that interview Snow left for Gaza to continue his reporting of the war from the battlefront.

Personal life

In 1979 Snow was briefly engaged to fellow ITN journalist Anna Ford, by then ITN's first female newsreader on News at Ten.[26] For 35 years his partner was human rights lawyer Madeleine Colvin, with whom he has two daughters.[27] In March 2010 he married Precious Lunga, a Zimbabwe-born academic.[28]

He was a school governor for many years at Brecknock Primary School, Camden, London.[29]


  • Trustee of the National Gallery and Tate Gallery from 1999 to 2008.[30][31]
  • Patron of Prisoners Abroad, a charity that supports the welfare of Britons imprisoned overseas and their families.
  • Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University from 2001 to 2008, regularly attending ceremonial events at the University. In 2009 he was awarded an honorary degree by Oxford Brookes – Doctor of the University.[32]
  • Honorary professor and guest lecturer on Stirling University's Film & Media Studies course.[33]
  • Honorary Fellow (since 15 February 2006) of the Royal Institute of British Architects, an annually-conferred lifetime honour which allows the recipient to use the initials Hon FRIBA after his or her surname.[34] Snow has an honorary degree from the University of Aberdeen, in recognition of his services to broadcasting.
  • Chairman of the Prison Reform Trust from 1992 to 1997.[35]
  • President of the Cyclists' Touring Club in January 2007, succeeding Phil Liggett.[36]
  • Patron of Reprieve, a legal action charity which uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.[37]
  • Patron of the African Prisons Project, an international non-governmental organisation with a mission to bring dignity and hope to men women and children in African prisons through health, education, justice and reintegration.[38]
  • Patron of Media Legal Defence Initiative, a UK-based charity that provides legal support to journalists and media outlets (independent media need not apply).[39]
  • Patron of the tree planting charity Trees for Cities.[40]
  • Chair of New Horizon Youth Centre, the charity of which he was Director during the 1970s.[41]
  • Ambassador of Ambitious about Autism, the UK charity supporting children and young people with autism.[42]
  • Patron of the DIPEx Charity, a UK-based charity that produces two health websites, Healthtalkonline[43] and Youthhealthtalk,[44] featuring people's real life experiences of health and illness.[45]


Snow published his autobiographical work, "Shooting History", in 2004. The book was published by Harper Perennial and details Snow's life from his childhood, up to the 2003 Iraq War.[46]


  3. "Anniversary of student occupation"
  4. "University of Liverpool Alumni – Jon Snow"
  5. "Jon Snow presenter of Channel 4 News"
  6. "Why I love Jon Snow", Sarah Dempster, The Guardian, 17 May 2007; retrieved 13 June 2010
  7. "Sri Lanka's Killing Fields"
  10. "Desert Island Discs interview, time:0:29:25, BBC Radio 4, 30 January 2011"
  11. Mark Hollingsworth; Richard Norton-Taylor (1988). "MI5 and the BBC – Stamping the 'Christmas Tree' files". Blacklist: The Inside Story of Political Vetting. London: Hogarth Press. p. 104. ISBN 0-7012-0811-2.
  13. title=Anthrax follies; 'Planted' intelligence is a war correspondent's nightmare
  14. "Who sees and hears what matters in Whitehall", The Guardian, 16 November 1992
  16. "Jon Snow Rails Against 'Poppy Fascism'"
  17. "Channel 4 – News – Snowmail: Prince Harry in Afghanistan"
  19. "Snow's actions treason'"
  22. "Bribery at the heart of Megrahi’s Lockerbie conviction?"
  23. "Russell Brand v Jon Snow interview"
  24. "Jon Snow interview with Israeli spokesman Mark Regev"
  26. Gerald Isaaman "And finally... the end of the news", Camden New Journal, 28 January 2005
  27. William Langley "Jon Snow: married in Mustique", The Telegraph, 26 June 2010
  41. {
  44. main website
  46. Snow, Jon (2004). Shooting History. London: Harper Perennial

External links

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