Jon Snow

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For those of the same or similar names, see Jon Snow (character) and John Snow (disambiguation).
Jon Snow
Jon Snow 2011 Crop.jpg
Snow speaking at Chatham House in 2011
Born Jon Snow
(1947-09-28) 28 September 1947 (age 67)
Ardingly, Sussex, England
Occupation Journalist, television presenter
Notable credit(s) Channel 4 News
Spouse(s) Precious Lunga (m.2010)
Children 2
Relatives Peter Snow, Dan Snow

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

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

Early life[edit]

Snow was born in Ardingly, Sussex. He is the son of Bishop of Whitby, George D'Oyly Snow and his wife Joan, a pianist who studied at the Royal College of Music.[1] He is a grandson of First World War general Thomas D'Oyly Snow (about whom he writes in his Foreword to Ronald Skirth's war memoir The Reluctant Tommy[2]) and is the cousin of retired BBC television news presenter Peter Snow.[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.[3]

Snow subsequently attended St Edward's School in Oxford. When he was 18 he spent a year as a VSO volunteer teaching in Uganda.[4]

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 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".[5] However, he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters at Liverpool University in 2011.[6]

Life and career[edit]

After leaving Liverpool, Snow was hired by Lord Longford[7] 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.


Snow in June 2007.

He served as ITN's Washington correspondent (1983–1986) and as diplomatic editor (1986–1989)[4] 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[4] – two for reports from El Salvador, one for his reporting of the Kegworth air disaster and two as "Presenter of the Year".[citation needed]

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.[4][8]

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.[9]

Snow declined an OBE because he believes working journalists should not take honours from those about whom they report.[10][11]

Memorable incidents[edit]

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.[12]

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.[10][13] In return he would have received secret monthly, tax-free payments into his bank account, matching his then salary.[14][15]

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 questioned Campbell about the affair.[16]

Book cover of Shooting History

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".[17]

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:[18] "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,[19] 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".[20]

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.[21] 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.[22]

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 an aeroplane" 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.

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[edit]

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]


  • 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 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.
  • Patron of Reprieve, a legal action charity which uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.[36]
  • 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.[37]
  • Chair of New Horizon Youth Centre, the charity of which he was Director during the 1970s.[40]
  • Patron of the DIPEx Charity, a UK-based charity that produces two health websites, Healthtalkonline[42] and Youthhealthtalk,[43] featuring people's real life experiences of health and illness.[44]


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 invasion of Iraq.[45]


  1. ^ a b Snow, Jon (3 May 2005). Shooting History. London: Harper Perennial. p. 352. ISBN 0-00-717185-4. 
  2. ^ Ronald Skirth; Jon Snow (16 April 2010). Duncan Barrett, ed. The Reluctant Tommy: An Extraordinary Memoir of the First World War. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-74673-2 
  3. ^ "Jon Snow recalls childhood abuse". BBC NEWS. 25 February 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Jon Snow – Chancellor". Oxford Brookes University. Archived from the original on 2 March 2004. 
  5. ^ Anniversary of student occupation
  6. ^ University of Liverpool Alumni – Jon Snow
  7. ^ Turner, Shannon (28 December 1997). "HOW WE MET: JON SNOW AND LORD LONGFORD". The Independent. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "Why I love Jon Snow", Sarah Dempster,, 17 May 2007; retrieved 13 June 2010
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b "Jon Snow Exclusive Interview". National Union of Students. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  11. ^ Nancy Banks-Smith (17 June 2002). "The hair apparent". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  12. ^ Desert Island Discs interview, time:0:29:25, BBC Radio 4, 30 January 2011
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ Colin Wills (13 December 1998). "Interview: Jon Snow: I survived wars, Gadaffi and camel for lunch". Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 14 January 2011. 
  15. ^ Ed Vulliamy (25 March 1998). "Anthrax follies; 'Planted' intelligence is a war correspondent's nightmare". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 January 2011. 
  16. ^ "Channel 4 News at 25: Jon Snow". Channel 4 News. 31 October 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2009. 
  17. ^ Jon Snow Rails Against 'Poppy Fascism'
  18. ^ Channel 4 – News – Snowmail: Prince Harry in Afghanistan
  19. ^ Barrow, Becky (9 February 2011). "the Daily Mail". London. [dead link]
  20. ^
  21. ^ "US lawyer: 'Show us Binyam Mohamed torture papers now'". Channel Four News. 9 February 2009. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  22. ^ "Cholera-hit Haiti braced for tropical storm Tomas". Channel Four News. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ "UK Reporter Commits Real Journalism In Interview With Israel's Chief Spokesman". Crooks and Liars. 19 July 2014. 
  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
  28. ^ Kay, Richard (23 June 2010). "And finally, Jon Snow weds at 62 (and his new bride is just 35)". Daily Mail (London). 
  29. ^ "Fine words, now let's see some substance". Times Educational Supplement. Retrieved 30 November 2011. 
  30. ^ "Recently Retired Tate Trustees". Tate Gallery. Retrieved 14 January 2011. 
  31. ^ "Minutes of the Board of Trustees – March 2008". National Gallery. Retrieved 14 January 2011. 
  32. ^ "Jon Snow – Doctor of the University (HonDUniv)". Oxford Brookes University. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  33. ^ "Undergraduate Courses – Film & Media Studies". University of Stirling. Archived from the original on 25 October 2005. 
  34. ^ "RIBA announces 16 Honorary Fellowships". 29 September 2005. 
  35. ^ "Jon Snow new CTC President". Cyclists' Touring Club. 25 September 2006. Retrieved 1 October 2006. 
  36. ^ "Reprieve Update". Reprieve. December 2007. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  37. ^ "Our People". African Prisons Project. Retrieved 25 March 2011. 
  38. ^ "About Us". Media Legal Defence Initiative. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  39. ^ "Who we are". Trees for Cities. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  40. ^ "Our Chair". New Horizon Youth Centre. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  41. ^ "Ambassadors". Ambitious about Autism. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  42. ^ "Healthtalkonline". Healthtalkonline main website. 
  43. ^ "Youthhealthtalk". Youthhealthtalk main website. 
  44. ^ "Healthtalkonline About Us". Healthtalkonline main website. 
  45. ^ Snow, Jon (2004). Shooting History. London: Harper Perennial. 

External links[edit]

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Jeremy Paxman
RTS: Television Journalism
Presenter of the Year

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

Succeeded by
Julie Etchingham
Preceded by
Julie Etchingham
RTS: Television Journalism
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Anna Botting
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Preceded by
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Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University
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