Jon Snow 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.
• Stephanie Nolen (Stephanie Nolen is a Canadian journalist and writer. She is currently the Latin America bureau ch...)
• Evan Osnos (Evan Lionel Richard Osnos is an American journalist and author. He has been a staff writer at The...)
• Adam Davidson (Adam Davidson is an American journalist focusing on business and economics issues for National Pu...)» All Journalist Interviews
Hi, I’m Jon Snow, lead anchor of the UK’s Channel 4 News since 1989.
I have reported the fall of Idi Amin in Uganda; the Revolution in Iran; the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan; the fall of the Berlin Wall; the release of Nelson Mandela; the earthquakes in Kashmir and Haiti; the 9/11 terror attacks; and the elections of Thatcher, Blair, Obama, and Hassan Rouhani's victory in 2013. More recently I’ve reported from the Gaza conflict, from Bangladesh on climate change and from the scene of the Paris attacks.
The story of the year has, of course, been the migration crisis — please do try our amazing interactive video story Two Billion Miles, and step into the shoes of a refugee or migrant making an extraordinary journey. There are eight endings and 21 countries to travel through.
In February I had two huge balloons of powerful 'skunk' cannabis as part of a medical trial, and I've quizzed David Cameron on Saudi arms deals, Mark Regev on IDF attacks, John Kerry on the refugee crisis and Russell Brand on addiction.
Edit 5:00 PM GMT: Thanks for all your wonderful questions! I must leave it there and get back to work on tonight's programme — see you at 7pm, on 4. Find me on Twitter!
Will you be returning for season 6?
My contract forbids me from discussing any of my appearances, but I am still basking in the glow of a red wedding and I love going north!
And I am certain... that winter is coming.
How many times have people made stupid jokes about you "knowing nothing" in the past 6 years or so?
My estimate would be in excess of 100,000 times. And the funny thing is, lots of people still think they're the first person to do it.
What was your most dangerous assignment?
Covering the Iran/Iraq war in 1980 without flak jacket and with no security. It was like the First World War.
What event have you reported that surprised you as it saw the biggest social change despite it possibly being not the biggest story at the time?
Although I knew it was massive, 9/11 created a far bigger social and political impact than I imagined at the time.
It cast negative shadows over many Muslim communities and we are all still struggling to reverse that.
What is the CRAZIEST story you think you've ever covered?
I went to Antarctica to see what damage the Falkland War was doing to the place. Answer: None. But there were some fabulous penguins!
I think you're brilliant!
Are there any news stories that you've found emotionally difficult to cover? How do you deal with stories that contain huge human suffering?
I found the atrocity in Paris very difficult. I interviewed a woman doctor who had tended some of the maimed and dying. She managed to contain her own emotions, but I found tears rolling down my face.
Was that just the way things were done back then, or was there a particular reason you went in without any protection?
That was the way things were done, and there hadn't been a war like it since the First World War with gas, crude heavy artillery, trenches and waves of fifteen-year-olds being slaughtered in their thousands in front of you.
You have been criticised by many for bringing your political opinions into your reporting too much (mainly people confusing your Twitter opinions with your actual job in reporting). I for one think that you do remain balanced.
Do you find it difficult to keep your own personal opinions out of your reporting?
Has your political stance changed over the years as a result of the things you have seen and experienced?
There is no such thing as a neutral human being. I am a man, you may be a woman... what is neutral between us in that regard?
Who you are, your life experience inform what you are, and I try to be balanced, but I can't pretend I am always neutral. I try to be objective, but I accept that sometimes when powerful emotions are in play, this can be very, very hard.
I don't think my political stance has changed since I became a reporter; it was profoundly changed by working as a volunteer teacher on the banks of the river Nile in remotest Uganda.
Would it be fair to say there has been a general decline in the quality and morality and of the british media over the last forty years? If you agree or disagree, why?
Well, I think Channel 4 News is holding its own, and I think we do a far better programme than when I began. It's an amazing team, it belongs to you, it costs you nothing. But yes, I think there has been a negative pull on the British media and I blame some of the proprietors for that. I still think the BBC is pretty good and I would defend it to the death, even though I have never worked for it.
I am the Irish guy who said hello to you behind Notre Dame after the attacks in Paris a couple of weeks back. Thank you so much for stopping to take time to speak to me and my friend, I really appreciate it!
If I could ask you anything, I would ask how do you keep patience and optimism for the people of Palestine? Your reports about that part of the world are some of the most insightful and compassionate.
Thanks again !
Actually, those people who have the opportunity to go to the region and meet and talk with the people who live there, will find it very difficult not to form an affinity with them. They are bright, engaged and under any other circumstances, would be part of one of the most able societies on Earth. That's why I find it easy to report there.
How much of what happened in 2001 do you see resonating today in the wake of Paris?
edit: I feel special now.
I think 9/11 and the consequent wars have all infected the world we live in to a far greater extent than we even begin to understand.
Happiest moment in your career?
Getting the job! (this job)
When you stop broadcasting, (which I hope won't be for a while yet!), would you ever consider going into politics? I ask that as you have been so close to it for so long.
It's quite a depressing scene right now and I'd prefer to die broadcasting.
Who is the most impressive politician you've talked with before?
Well, inevitably, Nelson Mandela. But there are others, too: there was an amazing Norwegian foreign minister called Jonas Gahr Støre, who had a brilliant grasp of world affairs and I reckon could yet be a candidate for Secretary General of the United Nations.
Are you on Big Fat Quiz of the Year again this year?
I sure am, and I think this one could be the best one yet
Where do you get your ties?
Anywhere I can find them – particularly craft shows – but I have a favourite, who has made ties that I have bought for 30 years, and she's called Victoria Richards and operates out of Peckham – funny? Peckham Rye tie?
Do you watch BBC News much and what do you make of it if you do?
I listen to BBC News more than I watch it, and I think BBC radio news and the news-based programming is exceptional. In all honesty, I have television news on my desk from assorted channels, all day, so I have very little appetite to watch any more of it when I get home.
Jon, just wanted to say that Channel 4 news is an absolutely fantastic program. Truly brilliant. I consider yourself and Krishnan to be the Batman and Robin of world news.
My question for you is: how do you structure your day so that when you're on air at 7 you're fully prepared and briefed? Do you have a team who you go over the events of the day with or do you formulate most of your lines of questioning yourself?
Also how many ties do you roughly own?
ALSO is it really true that you once contemplated taking out Idi Amin? Didn't you also once conduct some sort of commando style operation in a wetsuit to rescue somebody on a ship in the Shatt al-Arab waterway?
You've been reading my book! Shooting History; still available from Amazon. Yes to the wetsuit. Yes to Idi Amin.
As to the way I prepare, no two days are ever the same. You'd be amazed at the editorial process getting from the meeting at 9am to transmission at 7pm.
Out of all the people you have interviewed, who has been the most frustratingly evasive?
That's a wide field — I don't think she was evasive, it's just that Mrs Thatcher used to answer her own questions, so I just asked mine to the wall behind her.
It's a matter of record that the UK Secret Intelligence Service tried and failed to recruit you in the mid 70s. Have you ever regretted your decision to turn them down given how the nature of threats to the UK have changed, and did they ever try again?
How do you know I really did turn them down?! Maybe I was just conning you.
But seriously, I did turn them down. I have never regretted it, I couldn't possibly have been a journalist and a spook on the side, and nothing that has happened since has made me change my mind.
You, David Dimbleby and Trevor McDonald are locked in a shipping container and only one of you is getting out alive. Which one of you will it be?
Most certainly it will be me. I am completely ruthless when it comes to competition. And although I pretend to have a degree of compassion and generosity, I'm out of here! Screw the others!
What's your opinion on the media providing a platform for organisations like ISIS through publicising their content, or for racist public figures such as Donald Trump? Should the media publish everything or should we not provide a platform for racist, hate-filled comments?
Well, the fundamental is that we must strive to protect free speech and that includes having to put up with people like Donald Trump. BUT there are laws that govern racism, homophobia and other grim conditions and those laws should be upheld at every turn.
What do you think of Donald Trump? How will you react if he eventually wins the US presidential election?
I don't think of Donald Trump. I find it the easiest way to get over him, and I think if the rest of the world followed suit, we won't need to worry about him ever becoming President of the United States.
What can be done to save the distinct voice of Channel 4 news ?
Raise your voice! Get a petition going! Tell your MP to do something about it! It's yours, it costs you nothing, and it's genuinely different from anything else on offer.
If they sold it off, they wouldn't give you the money, and whatever followed afterwards would not be able to afford Channel 4 News.
Hi Jon, Have you ever been properly scooped?
Had a huge story ready to break, only to see a rivals paper and have the full page devoted your last few weeks worth of work before your eyes.
Or vice versa, what is the biggest story you had to just go with because you knew someone was about to go to press?
Endlessly! But then you try and cook yours up to look a bit different, and try to make it just as exclusive. But, I always think, the viewer and the reader can spot what's going on.
Given your coining of Poppy Fascism, a term with which I agree, are there any other over sensitivities in society that you are sick of?
I am worried about the empire. Any moment now, somebody could come knocking on your door and invite you to receive the Order of the British Empire (OBE) even become a Member of the British Empire (MBE) or worse still a Commander of the Birth Empire (CBE).
It does seem to me time that we respected the idea of honouring achievers in our society without inflict them with this antediluvian word 'empire'.
Hi Jon, thanks for doing this AMA!
What do you think is currently the biggest political problem facing Britain at the moment? And how do you think it might develop?
Housing and the deep inequality between rich and poor. Particularly between very rich and very poor. I don't think there will be a revolution but it has all the characteristics of what has led to revolution in the past.
Which politician have you been most impressed by; Cameron, Blair, Milliband or Corbyn?
I have been impressed by all of them, for some moment in time. Some of those moments have been very short.
As someone looking to become a journalist what tips have you got for getting into the industry? Also is it worth applying for Student membership of the National Union of Journalists?
Work experience, internships — neither of these will make you any money at all, but they will introduce you to our world, and to people who may become useful contacts when you try to get a job.
In the meantime, wherever you are, try to blog or tweet or Facebook what you're seeing. Good luck!
Jon, do you believe that more news organisations should refer to ISIS as 'Daesh'?
I think it probably would be a good idea to agree what they're actually called, and I think the more we use the words Islamic and State we play into the prospect that, in some dastardly way, they will come to represent both.
If you could add one newsreader/reporter to the Channel 4 team from any other news organisation, who would you pick?
I'd try to retrieve Katie Razzall from Newsnight. Because she's someone I have worked with and who's work I admire.
Hi Jon, thanks for doing this. Is there a meaning to the sock colours?
I choose them carefully every morning, and they are informed by how I feel, whether I am in love, who I'm going to meet today, what's happened in the news, and whether I have any oats left for my porridge.
Brighter colours seem to suggest for me a brighter day, and I hope to infect others with the same idea! Men in drab grey socks are a grim and distressing sight.
Big fan of your ties, Jon!
You're a friend of Shelter and an advocate for social housing - in your opinion, what measures could be taken to increase or improve social housing in the UK? Do you think it's a case of changing perceptions as well as policy?
I think the housing crisis is as serious as it was in the aftermath of the Second World War, and that humanity demands that we should use the same effort and resource to resolve it.
Do you find it hard to remain neutral when reporting on a story?
Has there ever been a time when you wished you could have given your own opinion rather than report what you have been told to say?
Additionally, in the game Tension (where you have to name the 10 things on a card of a certain category) why is your name not one of the 10 "top ten British news reporters". Every time I shout your name out first, then moan afterwards that your name should appear on the card!
I try to report exactly what I see. But of course, that often depends on who you are and how you see what you're seeing. Everybody has opinions, I try to ensure that I offset my own in so much as is possible.
How do you feel about the mainstream medias lack of objectivety?
I think in some ways it creates a bit of absurdity, but then you could argue that in a capitalist system, somebody's got to put the money up and make a profit. I'm glad I don't.
What would you say are the key differences between UK and USA news, if any?
US news, with notable exceptions (NY Times), is incredible parochial and myopic and despite its sensationalism and absurdity the diversity of the British press does serve to ensure that there is some brilliant reporting across the board.
You're one of the few journalists I can stomach.
What do you think of aggressive interviewers?
Personally I'm a bit sick of all these wannabe Paxmans. They just come off as rude.
I think charm is a very important element of good interviewing, there is absolutely no point being rude - very occasionally I have been and I have always regretted it.
Good evening Mr. Snow - I'm curious; do you feel that tabloid newspapers like the Sun and The Daily Star as well as the paparazzi still have a place in modern British society, and what lessons we should have learned following the death of Princess Diana, also - should our press institutions have some kind of oversight in order to protect and reinforce privacy issues in the wake of the phone hacking scandal?
Only the police call me Mr Snow. We live in a free society so we can decide amongst ourselves by our buying and reading habits as to whether any of these organs should exist.
I'm not wild about press regulation. Free speech is the overwhelming guardian.
What do you think about the news reporting on Jeremy Corbyn, it seems at times he is often abused by the press, and they mostly seem to want a pound of flesh from him, do you think more should be done to curtail some news outlets from the way they treat him?
I sense that some people who write about Mr Corbyn are experiencing some kind of fear. I think they may need to see a psychiatrist.
Did you really drive down the M40 off your face on acid?
No, it was a light whiff of hash
Have you ever encountered a story that made you question why you got into journalism?
Trainee journalist here, huge respect for you.
Never! Never. Indeed quite the reverse. Every single day I find myself saying 'Thank God I have the privilege of being a journalist and allowed to report what I'm seeing'.
Which historical figure would you most like to interview?
I would like to have interviewed Boadicea, she must have been quite a goer!
Two Billion Miles sounds like a gripping narrative piece that is painfully relevant in times like this. Was there an event or a person that didn't quite make it onto the show that you're still thinking about and wanted to share with the world?
I think there's an event every single day that didn't quite make it on to the show but that I wish had sone so. The refugee crisis is still a crisis even when we don't show it and that is true of so much else - Gaza, Boko Haram's activities in northern Nigeria, I could go on more.
Have you ever felt undermined by C4 where they couldn't support a theme or opinion you have displayed in reporting, and; have C4 ever not shown (or distanced themselves from being affiliated with) something you have investigated?
Absolutely never - and that's why it needs to be preserved! It costs you nothing!
Hey Jon! What do you do in your free time? What are your hobbies?
I like doing watercolours, playing tennis and standing on my head.
Rumours abound that the government want to privatise channel 4.
Any truth to them, or is it a game the government is playing to get more favourable coverage, like the game they are playing with the BBC's charter renewal?
I hope that they're merely ensuring that we are in good shape. We are. We cost you nothing!