Jon Snow (journalist)

Jonathan George Snow HonFRIBA (born 28 September 1947) is an English journalist and television presenter. He is best known as the longest-running presenter of Channel 4 News, which he presented from 1989 to 2021. On 29 April 2021, Snow announced his retirement from the role; his final programme aired on 23 December 2021. Although Channel 4's news programming is produced by ITN, Snow was employed directly by the broadcaster.[1]

Jon Snow

Snow speaking at Chatham House in 2011
Jonathan George Snow

(1947-09-28) 28 September 1947
Ardingly, Sussex, England
Occupation(s)Journalist, television presenter, news anchor
Years active1973–present
Notable creditChannel 4 News (1989–2021)
Precious Lunga
(m. 2010)
PartnerMadeleine Colvin (separated)
RelativesBishop George Snow
Peter Snow
Dan Snow

Snow has held numerous honorary appointments, including Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University from 2001 to 2008.[2]

Early life

Snow was born in Ardingly, Sussex, the son of George D'Oyly Snow, Bishop of Whitby, and Joan, a pianist who studied at the Royal College of Music.[3] He is a grandson of First World War General Sir Thomas D'Oyly Snow (about whom he writes in his foreword to Ronald Skirth's war memoir The Reluctant Tommy)[4] and is the cousin of retired BBC television news presenter Peter Snow.[3] He grew up 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, having been molested by one of the college's domestic staff when he was aged six.[5]

Snow won a choral scholarship by Winchester Cathedral and spent five years at the Pilgrims' School. He subsequently attended St Edward's School in Oxford.[6] When he was 18, he spent a year as a VSO volunteer teaching in Uganda.[7]

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 expelled for his part in a 1970 anti-apartheid socialist student protest, which he later described as "an absolute watershed in my life".[8]


After his law degree studies were terminated at Liverpool University, Snow was hired by Lord Longford[9] 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.

In 1973 he became presenter on LBC Radio, a then new commercial radio station.

By 1978, he was working as a correspondent for ITN, and in November of that year was sent on a mission to Vietnam to report on the plight of the boat people.[10] He served as ITN's Washington correspondent (1983–1986) and as diplomatic editor (1986–1989)[7] 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.) Snow has won several RTS Awards[7] – 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.[11]

Snow is known for sporting his vast collection of colourful ties and socks.[7][12]

While working as a journalist in Uganda, he flew alongside President Idi Amin in the presidential jet, and Snow has recounted how while 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.[13]

In 1976, Snow reportedly 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.[14][15] In return he would have received secret monthly, tax-free payments, matching his then salary.[16][17]

In 1980, in the early stages of the Iran–Iraq War, he helped rescue a British ship that had become trapped in Iranian waters.[18][19]

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.[20]

In 2004, Snow published an autobiography, Shooting History. The book was published by Harper Perennial and detailed Snow's life from his childhood up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[21]

Snow refuses to wear any symbol that 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".[22]

Snow in June 2007

On 28 February 2008, Snow said that the silence of the British media on the decision to allow Prince Harry to fight in Afghanistan was unacceptable:[23] "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 viewers and media outlets.[24]

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.[25] 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.[26]

On 14 June 2011, Snow presented the multiple award-winning investigation 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 second part, Sri Lanka's Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished was broadcast in March 2012.[27]

In early 2014, Snow had a debate with comedian and actor Russell Brand[28] who appeared in a Channel 4 interview about his petition for a debate on British drug laws.[29]

Accusations of bias

In June 2017, it was reported that Snow had shouted "f**k the Tories" at Glastonbury. He was criticised for his views on air by a guest on Channel 4 News, Conservative minister Grant Shapps later refused to appear on the show, doubting its neutrality. Shapps stated: "I don’t think he [Jon Snow] can deal in an even handed manner in any interview with a Conservative MP. He has lost all credibility."[30] MP Andrew Bridgen called for Snow's resignation, arguing that Snow's "extreme views" were incompatible with an impartial interviewer.[31] Rival presenter for the BBC, Andrew Marr, commented that if he had made similar comments, he would have lost his job.[32] Channel 4 released a statement saying that Snow had been “spoken to and reminded of his responsibilities around due impartiality”.[33]

In March 2019, while reporting at a pro-Brexit protest, Snow said that he had "never seen so many white people in one place". Media regulator Ofcom received 2,644 complaints about Snow's comment;[34] viewers "considered the comment unnecessary". A Channel 4 spokeswoman released a statement stating that it was "an unscripted observation" and that the broadcaster regretted any offence caused.[35] Ofcom investigated whether the comment "broke our rules on offensive content",[34] and ruled in August to clear him over the remarks.[36]

Other Ventures

Following his retirement from ITN as the news anchor for Channel 4 in 2021, Snow continued his long association with the state owned broadcaster, by travelling to Greece, Japan and California to research and present his two part documentary on, How to Live to 100,[37][38] broadcast during January 2023. The programme sought to reveal to viewers the secrets of a long, happy and healthy life, by examining the lifestyles of the residents of three continents who were approaching, 100 years of age.

Awards and honours

Snow declined an OBE because he believes working journalists should not take honours from those about whom they report.[14][39]

In May 2015, Snow accepted a BAFTA Fellowship at the 2015 BAFTA Awards Ceremony.[40]

Snow was also awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of Liverpool in 2011,[41] by Sussex University in 2015[42][43] and by Keele University in 2018.[44]

Personal life

For 35 years Snow's partner was human rights lawyer Madeleine Colvin, with whom he has two daughters.[45] In March 2010 Snow married Precious Lunga, a scientist who was born and raised in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).[45] They had a child together by surrogacy in March 2021.[46]

Known as a keen cyclist and advocate of the activity, Snow served as president of CTC Cycling UK from 2007 onwards, to around 2020.[47] When his beloved Condor, titanium-framed silver hybrid cycle was stolen from his home, he publicised the theft on his blog and offered £250 reward for its safe return.

Snow served as a governor at Brecknock Primary School, Camden, for many years.[48]

He is the cousin of the equally renowned journalist and broadcaster Peter Snow. [49]


  • Trustee of the National Gallery and Tate Gallery from 1999 to 2008.[50][51]
  • Patron of Prisoners Abroad, a charity that supports the welfare of Britons imprisoned overseas and their families.
  • Patron of Farms Not Factories, a UK nonprofit organisation that works to end factory farming. In March 2016 he appeared in a video for the #TurnYourNoseUp campaign.[52]
  • Patron of Pan Intercultural Arts, a UK charity that uses the Arts to empower young people and unlock their potential:
  • 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.[53]
  • Honorary Professor of Stirling University and guest lecturer on its Film & Media Studies course.[54]
  • 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.[55]
  • 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.[7]
  • President of the Cyclists' Touring Club in January 2007, succeeding Phil Liggett.[56]
  • Patron of Reprieve, a legal action charity which uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.[57]
  • 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.[58]
  • Patron of Media Legal Defence Initiative, a UK-based charity that provides legal support to journalists and media outlets.[59]
  • Patron of the tree planting charity Trees for Cities.[60]
  • Chair of New Horizon Youth Centre, the charity of which he was Director during the 1970s.[61]
  • Ambassador of Ambitious about Autism, the UK charity supporting children and young people with autism.[62]
  • Patron of the DIPEx Charity, a UK-based charity that produces two health websites, Healthtalkonline[63] and Youthhealthtalk,[64] featuring people's real life experiences of health and illness.[65]
  • 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.[66]
  • Chairman of the Heart of England Forest,[67] a charity working to create a 30,000 acre connected woodland of native broadleaf trees. In 2015 they were 12% towards their final goal and already England's largest new native forest.


  1. Waterson, Jim (17 May 2018). "Channel 4 News host Jon Snow takes 25% 'gender pay cut'". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 May 2018. A Channel 4 News source said that Snow, as one of the station's most recognisable faces, was employed directly by Channel 4 rather than ITN, meaning his pay cut will reduce the gender pay gap at the broadcaster rather than at the news production company.
  2. Debrett's People of Today Archived 12 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  3. Snow, Jon (3 May 2005). Shooting History. London: Harper Perennial. p. 352. ISBN 0-00-717185-4.
  4. Skirth, Ronald; 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.
  5. "Jon Snow recalls childhood abuse". BBC News. 25 February 2013.
  6. Usborne, Simon (20 April 2014). "Jon Snow interview: 'I'm a hack who wants to change the world'". The Independent. Archived from the original on 14 June 2022. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  7. "Jon Snow – Chancellor". Oxford Brookes University. Archived from the original on 2 March 2004.
  8. "BBC – Anniversary of student occupation".
  9. Turner, Shannon (28 December 1997). "How We Met: Jon Snow and Lord Longford". The Independent. Archived from the original on 14 June 2022. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  10. Jon Snow, Shooting History: A Personal Journey (Harper Collins, 2017), pp. 1–3.
  11. "Jon Snow – Personally Speaking Bureau". Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  12. Sarah Dempster, "Why I love Jon Snow". The Guardian, 17 May 2007. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
  13. "Jon Snow". BBC Radio 4. Time: 0:29:25, 30 January 2011.
  14. "Jon Snow Exclusive Interview". National Union of Students. Archived from the original on 26 November 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  15. Hollingsworth, Mark; 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.
  16. Wills, Colin (13 December 1998). "Interview: Jon Snow: I survived wars, Gadaffi and camel for lunch". Sunday Mirror. Archived from the original on 24 October 2011. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  17. Vulliamy, Ed (25 March 1998). "Anthrax follies; 'Planted' intelligence is a war correspondent's nightmare". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  18. "23 Escape British Ship Trapped in Crossfire of Persian Gulf War". Washington Post. 16 October 1980.
  19. "Jon Snow: Inside the Operation Pear rescue (Video)".
  20. "Channel 4 News at 25: Jon Snow". Channel 4 News. 31 October 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
  21. Snow, Jon (2004). Shooting History. London: Harper Perennial.
  22. "Jon Snow Rails Against 'Poppy Fascism'". Archived from the original on 5 May 2013.
  23. Snow, Jon. "Snowmail: Prince Harry in Afghanistan".
  24. Pierce, Andrew (29 February 2008). "Jon Snow attacked for praising Matt Drudge report on Prince Harry's deployment". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022.
  25. "US lawyer: 'Show us Binyam Mohamed torture papers now'". Channel Four News. 9 February 2009. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
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  29. "Russell Brand to Channel 4's Jon Snow; "Listen you, Let me Talk"". YouTube. 18 January 2014. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  30. Christopher Hope,"Boycott Channel 4 News, over Jon Snow's Labour 'bias', former Tory minister tells Conservative MPs", The Telegraph, 30 June 2017.
  31. Malvern, Jack (28 June 2017). "Jon Snow's Glastonbury outburst upsets Tories". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  32. Andrew Marr, "It hurts, but I’ve learnt to repress my views", The Times, 2 July 2017.
  33. Kathryn Snowdon, "Jon Snow Reprimanded Over Alleged 'F**k The Tories' Chant At Glastonbury", Huffington Post, 2 July 2017.
  34. "Ofcom investigates Snow 'white people' remark". BBC News. 8 April 2019. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  35. "Complaints over Snow's 'white people' remark". BBC News. 1 April 2019. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  36. "Snow and Farage cleared over Brexit rally remarks". 5 August 2019. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  37. "How to Live to 100 | All 4". Retrieved 15 January 2023.
  38. "How to Live to 100 on Channel 4, Sun 15 Jan 6:45pm -". Retrieved 15 January 2023.
  39. Banks-Smith, Nancy (17 June 2002). "The hair apparent". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  40. "BAFTA Television Awards 2015". BAFTA. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  41. "Jon Snow – The University of Liverpool".
  42. "University of Sussex Graduation Fri 17/07/15 (morning)". YouTube. 10 July 2014. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  43. "News anchor Jon Snow's inspiring message to University of Sussex students". The Argus. Brighton. 20 July 2015.
  44. "Keele University announces Honorary Graduates 2018". Keele University. 6 June 2018. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  45. Langley, William (26 June 2010). "Jon Snow: married in Mustique"". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022.
  46. Southern, Keiran (8 March 2021). "News presenter Jon Snow, 73, announces baby news". Yahoo news. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  47. "Jon Snow new CTC President". Retrieved 16 January 2023.
  48. Snow, Jon (1 August 1997). "Fine words, now let's see some substance". Times Educational Supplement. London. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  49. McGarrigle, Clyde. "Jon and Peter Snow on rivalry and — why Jon was chucked out of university". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  50. "Recently Retired Tate Trustees". Tate Gallery. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  51. "Minutes of the Board of Trustees – March 2008". National Gallery. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  52. "Celebrities back campaign to end 'inhumane' treatment of pigs in 'factory farms' –". 12 May 2016..
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  54. "Undergraduate Courses – Film & Media Studies". University of Stirling. Archived from the original on 25 October 2005.
  55. "RIBA announces 16 Honorary Fellowships". 29 September 2005. Archived from the original on 11 October 2006. Retrieved 12 October 2006.
  56. "Jon Snow new CTC President". Cyclists' Touring Club. 25 September 2006. Retrieved 1 October 2006.
  57. "Reprieve Update" (PDF). Reprieve. December 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 December 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  58. "Our People". African Prisons Project. Archived from the original on 7 January 2010. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
  59. "About Us". Media Legal Defence Initiative. Archived from the original on 17 March 2011. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
  60. "Who we are". Trees for Cities. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  61. "Our Chair". New Horizon Youth Centre. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  62. "Ambassadors". Ambitious about Autism. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  63. "Healthtalkonline". Healthtalkonline main website.
  64. "Youthhealthtalk". Youthhealthtalk main website.
  65. "Healthtalkonline About Us". Healthtalkonline main website. Archived from the original on 8 March 2011.
  66. "SafeHands for Mothers". SafeHands for Mothers. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  67. "Jon Snow outlines vision for the Heart of England Forest". Midlands Business News. 16 September 2015.
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