Jon Snow

Jon Snow (born 28 September 1947) is an English journalist and television presenter, currently employed by ITN. He is best known as the longest-running presenter of Channel 4 News, which he has presented since 1989.

Snow has held numerous honorary appointments, including Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University from 2001 to 2008.

    Early life

    Snow was born at Ardingly in Sussex, the son of George D'Oyly Snow, Bishop of Whitby, and his wife Joan, a pianist who studied at the Royal College of Music. He is a grandson of WW1 General Sir Thomas D'Oyly Snow (about whom he writes in his foreword to Ronald Skirth's war memoir The Reluctant Tommy) and is the cousin of retired BBC television news presenter Peter Snow.

    Snow won a choral scholarship by 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 Sir Jimmy Savile had allowed him to re-evaluate his own childhood when he was molested by one of the school's domestic staff.

    Snow subsequently attended St Edward's School, 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, where he later obtained the necessary qualifications to gain a place reading Law at the University of Liverpool. However, he did not complete his undergraduate studies, being rusticated for his part in a 1970 anti-apartheid socialist student protest, which he later described as "an absolute watershed in my life".

    Career

    After leaving Liverpool, Snow was hired by Frank, 7th Earl of Longford to direct the New Horizon Youth Centre, a day centre for homeless young people in central London, an organisation with which he has remained involved and of which he subsequently became chairman.

    Jon Snow in June 2007

    He 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 RTS Awards – two for reports from El Salvador, one for his reporting of the Kegworth air disaster as well as the 1995 Award for Best Male Presenter and the 1980 Award for TV Journalist of the Year for his coverage of Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle East.

    Snow is known for sporting his vast collection of colourful ties and socks.

    While working as a journalist in Uganda, he flew alongside 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 aircraft.

    In 1976, Snow reputedly rejected an approach by 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. In return he would have received secret monthly, tax-free payments into his bank account, matching his then salary.

    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.

    In 2003, at the height of the "dodgy dossier" affair, Alastair Campbell walked into the studio to rebut statements by the BBC. Without notes or preparation, Snow attempted to question Campbell about the affair.

    Book cover of Shooting History

    In 2004, Snow published an autobiography, Shooting History. The book was published by Harper Perennial and details Snow's life from his childhood, up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

    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".

    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: "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, 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 HM Armed Forces called Snow's actions "treasonable".

    On 9 February 2009, Snow interviewed Lt-Col Yvonne Bradley, the military counsel for Binyam Mohamed, a British resident detained for five years at Guantánamo Bay. Snow asked whether Mohamed's allegations of torture were justified: Bradley said there was no doubt at all that he had been tortured. 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.

    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, Sri Lanka's Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished was broadcast in March 2012.

    On 29 August 2012, Snow carried the Paralympic Torch in the relay prior to the opening ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Games.

    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 as 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, Snow conducted a heated debate with comedian and actor Russell Brand who appeared in a Channel 4 interview about his petition for a debate on British drug laws.

    In July 2014, during the latest Gaza–Israel conflict, Snow interviewed Israeli spokesman Mark Regev about alleged Israeli 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. Snow concluded by asking Regev: "Why won't you speak with Hamas directly? You haven't got the courage." Shortly after that confrontational interview Snow reportedly left for Gaza to seek more evidence for his war reporting.

    Awards and honours

    Snow declined an OBE because he believes working journalists should not take honours from those about whom they report.

    In May 2015, Snow accepted a BAFTA Fellowship at the 2015 BAFTA Awards Ceremony.

    Snow was also awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by Liverpool University in 2011 and again by Sussex University in 2015. He also became Honorary Director of Oxford Brookes in 2009 following his term as Chancellor of that University.

    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. For 35 years his partner was human rights lawyer Madeleine Colvin, by whom he has two daughters. In March 2010 he married Precious Lunga, a Zimbabwe-born academic.

    He was a school governor for many years at Brecknock Primary School, Camden.

    Affiliations

    • Trustee of the National Gallery and Tate Gallery from 1999 to 2008.
    • Patron of Prisoners Abroad, a charity that supports the welfare of Britons imprisoned overseas and their families.
    • Patron of Pan Intercultural Arts, a UK charity that uses the Arts to empower young people and unlock their potential: www.pan-arts.net
    • Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University from 2001 to 2008, regularly attending university ceremonial events: in 2009 Oxford Brookes conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of the University.
    • Honorary Professor of Stirling University and guest lecturer on its Film & Media Studies course.
    • 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. 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.
    • President of the Cyclists' Touring Club in January 2007, succeeding Phil Liggett.
    • Patron of Reprieve, a legal action charity which uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.
    • 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.
    • Patron of Media Legal Defence Initiative, a UK-based charity that provides legal support to journalists and media outlets.
    • Patron of the tree planting charity Trees for Cities.
    • Chair of New Horizon Youth Centre, the charity of which he was Director during the 1970s.
    • Ambassador of Ambitious about Autism, the UK charity supporting children and young people with autism.
    • Patron of the DIPEx Charity, a UK-based charity that produces two health websites, Healthtalkonline and Youthhealthtalk, featuring people's real life experiences of health and illness.
    • Patron of SafeHands for Mothers, a UK-based charity whose mission is to improve maternal and newborn health by harnessing the power of the visual, through the production of films.

    References

    External links

    Preceded by
    Jeremy Paxman
    RTS: Television Journalism
    Presenter of the Year

    2003
    Succeeded by
    John Stapleton
    Preceded by
    Jeremy Paxman
    RTS: Television Journalism
    Presenter of the Year

    2009
    Succeeded by
    Julie Etchingham
    Preceded by
    Julie Etchingham
    RTS: Television Journalism
    Presenter of the Year

    2011
    Succeeded by
    Anna Botting
    Academic offices
    Preceded by
    Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws

    Chancellor
    of Oxford Brookes University

    2001–2008
    Succeeded by
    Shami Chakrabarti, CBE
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