Life, media and politics: LSBF interviews broadcaster Jon Snow

“Life is more than just earning a penny or two” – at least according to 2015 BAFTA Television awards-winning journalist Jon Snow. The long-time broadcaster, who was presented with the prestigious Fellowship Award by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts last week, was interviewed by former British Education Secretary, David Blunkett, as part of the London School of Business and Finance’s Great Minds Series of videos.

In an unusual setting, in which a veteran journalist was interviewed by a senior politician, Mr Snow talked about life, education, politics and the future of media and journalism.

“In terms of the media business, this is the golden age. This is the golden age of journalism. You can get so many bits and pieces online, on Twitter, on Facebook, but how do you prove it’s true? And that’s where I think journalism comes in. People thought television would have gone out of business, but actually people look to us now somehow to kind of define what’s going on,” said Mr Snow.

Mr Snow’s journalism career spans several decades; during the early stages he worked for ITN, becoming a Channel 4 News presenter in 1989 – a position which he still holds today. With some of his most high-profile reports centred on memorable moments in history, from the fall of the Berlin Wall and the release of Nelson Mandela, through to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, it’s not difficult to understand why he was awarded Academy Fellowship – a lifetime achievement awarded to those who have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to art forms involving moving image.

During the interview, Mr Snow also discussed his own educational experiences, explaining how further education college “saved his life” after a hard time at school: “It absolutely saved my life. I went there to get my A Levels and instead of being treated like a dunce, I was suddenly treated as an intellectual. I was one of only eight kids in the college sitting A Levels, so I was a rather celebrated character.”

While at university, he became heavily involved in politics, particularly the anti-apartheid movement, with one protest he participated in lasting six weeks. “Our protest was focused on the university investing in investments that were rooted in South Africa. We said ‘no, they have to get out of South Africa’, and they told us we had nothing to do with it,” he told Mr Blunkett.

The protest led to Mr Snow and nine other students being permanently excluded from the university. He said of the rustication: “For me, it was absolutely mortifying because I’d struggled so hard to get there that I really felt wounded.”

But after enjoying three decades as a successful journalist, Mr Snow reflects on his university expulsion with a positive outlook. “If you want to do something enough, you’ll do it. And you’ll do it to the very best of your ability. I think it’s setting your eye on goals, and if your goal is to get a degree, somehow you’ll come through.

After discussing various aspects of his past, from sharing a small private jet with Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin, to being asked to spy on fellow journalists by MI5, Mr Snow went on to talk about media and technology and the need for people to maintain certain levels of human interaction.

“I think we want people to be of the community - to join with other humans because one of the problems with the digital age is, we can do a lot of stuff on our own. Pound away on our laptops, listen to great music, watch films, and communicate, as it were. We think we’re communicating through Facebook but you need to be with human beings, doing things with human beings for other human beings. That way you progress.”

As the interview came to a close, Mr Blunkett stated that life is about making a difference personally, to the people around us, and also to the world we live in, to which Mr Snow replied: “Life is more than just earning a penny or two.”


Great Minds Series

As well as offering programmes dedicated to fostering leadership skills, LSBF also endeavours to provide students with insight and inspiration through a number of innovative resources. One of these initiatives is the LSBF Great Minds Series; a collection of video interviews with leading business and political leaders promoting debate on education, employability, entrepreneurship and the economy.

The video series started in 2011 with a conversation with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, followed by an interview with former Education Secretary Lord Kenneth Baker. In 2012, entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group said that universities worldwide should become hubs to boost entrepreneurship and inspire self-starters to develop their own businesses. In 2014, LSBF spoke to Will Butler-Adams from Brompton Bicycle, Guy Hayward-Cole from Nomura Bank International, with former British Prime Minister Sir John Major, entrepreneur and investor Deborah Meaden, Google UK sales director Kevin Mathers and BBC Worldwide CEO Tim Davie.

Kicking off 2015, LSBF hosted interviews with Andrew Miller, CEO of Guardian Media Group; Jill McDonald, CEO of McDonald’s UK; Kevin Costello, CEO of Haymarket Group; and Amy McPherson, CEO of Marriott Hotels Europe.

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