My Mentor: Krishnan Guru-Murthy On Peter Snow

'At meetings he threw ideas around and got people on the programme'

I arrived in the Newsnight office from Newsround in 1994. I was starting out in serious telly and I had taken a £20,000 pay cut and a massive drop in status to be a producer. Peter Snow was the dominant personality as he'd been around so long and Jeremy Paxman was still establishing himself as the person who defined the programme.

I arrived in the Newsnight office from Newsround in 1994. I was starting out in serious telly and I had taken a £20,000 pay cut and a massive drop in status to be a producer. Peter Snow was the dominant personality as he'd been around so long and Jeremy Paxman was still establishing himself as the person who defined the programme.

Peter was very encouraging and was quite surprised I'd decided to take the step down, if you like, into producing. But Newsnight was fundamentally a bit snobby and it was a case of taking one step back and two steps forward. Peter was fantastically involved in a way that none of the other presenters were. At morning meetings he threw ideas around, rang contacts and got them on the programme. That was a huge inspiration as a lot of news and current affairs presenters are a bit grand and don't really get involved in the grubby news gathering.

He helped the younger people on the programme. Presenters had to do five minute packages and it would be the job of the producers to do all the journalism and write the scripts. Other presenters would just come along and slap a voice on but Peter would give us ideas. Generally he'd be more of a creative force.

Most presenters are paranoid about everybody else walking into a newsroom, particularly a young thing who wants to be a presenter, as I was. Perhaps your average presenter might regard me as a jumped-up little git, but Peter would actually encourage me to be ambitious. When I left Newsnight, Peter was aghast with me. He said: "It's terrible, you musn't leave. You should be presenting this programme." That was completely unheard of for a presenter of a programme to say, but that's the kind of person he was.

What I took from the way Peter handled Newsnight in those days was that it doesn't matter how famous you are, you're going to get the best results if you do your own research, get stuck in with the journalism and help the people lower down the food chain.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy is a presenter on 'Channel 4 News'

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