[Media-watch] Jon Snow - "My editors tell me to tone it down" - Independent - 14/10/2004

Julie-ann Davies jadavies2004 at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Oct 14 16:29:46 BST 2004


'My editors tell me to tone it down...' but Snow still ploughs into 

By Katy Guest

14 October 2004

  Fans of Jon Snow's famously iconoclastic style were not disappointed 
by his festival appearance, in which he ridiculed George Bush, 
castigated Alastair Campbell and came out in support of the former BBC 
correspondent, Andrew Gilligan, over the "dodgy dossier" incident on 
Radio 4. "The Gilligan thing - and again this is strictly between these 
four walls," he said, leaning forward conspiratorially. "What exactly 
did he get wrong?" There was applause. "The more we find out about it," 
he continued, "the more it seems we can now say with absolute 
confidence that the dossier was sexed up, and it was sexed up by 
Alastair Campbell. So sue me!"

Snow has landed himself in hot water recently with his e-mail 
newsletter, which is known affectionately as "Snowmail" and has 
developed a cult following. In these regular bulletins to subscribers, 
the Channel 4 News anchor makes no secret of his feelings about 
government decisions, leading one newspaper to contact Channel 4 bosses 
to ask if he ought to be reined in. "My editors are a bit worried, 
they'd like me to tone it down a bit," he told The Independent. 
"Because I'm a news presenter I'm supposed to be 'neutral'. But I think 
[outspokenness] is kind of the point, isn't it?" Even the concept of 
neutrality came in for a bashing. "None of us is neutral," he told 
interviewer, Pamela Armstrong. "You're a woman, I'm a man. You turn on 
the radio in the morning and your perception will be different to mine. 
We're not neutral. We need to understand where we're coming from, we 
hacks, and be quite open about it.

"I don't say 'I cover elections so I'm not going to vote'. We have to 
put a tick in a box; we're citizens first and hacks second."

His book, Shooting History - about his life as a foreign correspondent 
- is a departure for Snow, who says that being an author offers very 
different journalistic opportunities. "9/11 was what made me want to 
write a book," he said. "Many of the more dispossessed parts of the 
world weren't nearly so surprised by what happened [as Westerners 

"They thought it was something the West had coming to it. And isn't 
that what we should be interested in investigating and finding out? How 
those symptoms could have been felt?"

Snow was, by turns, serious and lighthearted, didactic and intimate - a 
range illustrated by an exchange about Mikhail Gorbachev, the Cold War 
and the "emasculated" United Nations. "Gorby was absolutely lovely," he 
reminisced, fondly. "He's still lovely; I interviewed him again the 
other day." Then, turning steely, he added: "And he thinks we threw it 

With his cuddly iconoclasm and warm intelligence, Jon Snow is in danger 
of becoming a national treasure. It's a risk raised by stepping out 
from behind the newscaster's desk. "Can I say thank you for the ties?" 
asked a fan in the audience. "And the socks are a new joy." "Ah yes," 
replied Snow, solemnly. "That's what happens when they take the desk 
away. You have to worry that the sock and ties are going to clash

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