‘The greatest privilege’: Jon Snow signs off his final Channel 4 News after 32 years at helm

Journalist hailed by viewers and politicians as ‘a British institution’ and ‘all-round human being’

Andy Gregory
Friday 24 December 2021 03:18
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<p>Jon Snow thanks viewers as he anchors Channel 4 News for the final time</p>

Jon Snow thanks viewers as he anchors Channel 4 News for the final time

After 32 years at the helm of Channel 4’s flagship news show, Jon Snow has delivered a sign-off from the programme for the final time.

Thanking his viewers and bidding them an emotional farewell in his closing remarks, the 74-year-old journalist said it had “been the greatest privilege of my life to bring you the news”.

His final broadcast had been billed by Channel 4 as “the end of an era”, and a montage was played during the programme showing memorable moments from his career – as warm tributes poured in from viewers, media colleagues and politicians, including heads of government, past and present.

After the on-screen tributes closed with his former editor Ben de Pear describing him as “a giant of a journalist” but “a very humble man” and “a very beautiful one as well”, Snow concluded the programme by saying: “It's been wonderful and so rewarding after so long at the coalface of news.

“But in the end ... I am nothing in this studio without the significant and skilled technical and journalistic teams that, night after night, ensure that Channel 4 News comes to you. The joy of working here is those teams and their skills, technicians and journalists.

“And thanks to the farsighted governments, regulators that have given us an hour of independent news – in primetime. Thank you to all the people who have trusted me with their stories all over the world too, in often appalling circumstances.

“But most of all, I'm so grateful to you at home. Yes, you, sitting there. It's not always an easy watch and we don’t always get away with it, we don’t always get it right. But your hunger to know more about the world, to hear different voices, to get closer to the truth – it’s been the greatest privilege of my life to bring you the news.

“Thank you, stay safe. That's Channel Four News. Good evening.”

Cameras followed Snow as he was clapped out of the building, as per journalistic tradition, by emotional colleagues, as confetti fell from the ceiling.

Among those to pay tribute to the veteran broadcaster was former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown, who said: “Jon Snow is a British institution and will always be so. Jon, your charitable work is less well known, but a tribute to your idealism.

“You deserve all our thanks for showing us that even amidst evil and injustice in this world a better world is possible.”

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said his absence would leave “a massive hole”, calling him “a top interviewer” but more importantly “just an all-round human being”.

Fellow broadcaster Piers Morgan described him as a “consistently brilliant news broadcaster, and aside from the ludicrous ties, and dodgy helmets, a lot of fun too”.

Snow has previously said he ignored instructions not to wear bright colours when he first started at Channel 4 and wanted to make “a bit of a splash” while on air, rather than appear “aggressively boring”.

The anchor donned a suitably colourful tie for his final broadcast, during which a montage showed some stories he covered over his time with the nightly news show, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, Barack Obama’s inauguration, and Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.

Over the footage, he could be heard saying in past comments: “I see myself as an informant. That’s my job – tell the truth, see where it takes us ... I never had an agenda but I had an attitude, and the attitude was that all that glitters is not gold.”

Snow’s career in journalism began at LBC in 1973. He moved to ITN three years later where he served as Washington correspondent and diplomatic editor, before becoming the main presenter of Channel 4 News in 1989.

Channel 4 News has won 10 Bafta awards during his time there. Among the many awards won by Snow personally is the Bafta Fellowship – the organisation’s highest accolade. He has been named presenter of the year six times by the Royal Television Society.

He had faced some criticism – notably in 2017 when footage emerged of him at Glastonbury appearing to shout “f*** the Tories”, and two years later, when a comment that he had “never seen so many white people in one place” at a pro-Brexit protest sparked the most complaints to Ofcom that year.

When his departure was announced in April, Channel 4 said he would instead front longer-form projects and represent the channel in other matters.

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