Jon Snow: life and career of Channel 4 News journalist, who is wife Precious Lunga, and does he have children?

Jon Snow has been the face of Channel 4 News since 1989

Legendary British journalist Jon Snow has officially stepped down from his role as the face of Channel 4 News.

With 32 years at the helm, Snow is the longest-serving presenter in the programme’s history.

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This is everything you need to know about the life and career of the veteran broadcaster - including who his wife Precious Lunga is, and if they have children.

Who is Jon Snow?

Snow is an English journalist and TV presenter who is best known as the face of Channel 4 News, which he presented for 32 years. Snow recently stepped down from the role, which he held since 1989.

Born on 28 September 1947, Snow grew up at Ardingly College, where his father was the headmaster. He won a choral scholarship by Winchester Cathedral, and spent five years at the Pilgrims’ School.

He then went on to attend St Edward’s School in Oxford, and at the age of 18, he spent a year volunteering teaching in Uganda.

Snow secured a place reading Law at the University of Liverpool, however he did not complete his undergraduate degree after he was expelled for his role in a 1970 anti-apartheid socialist student protest, something that Snow has described as “an absolute watershed in my life”.

Jon Snow poses with the award for Best News Coverage for the Paris Massacre (Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

His career in journalism started at LBC in 1973, before joining ITN in 1976, which produces Channel 4 News. In 1984 he became Washington Correspondent and before serving as the diplomatic editor from 1986 to 1989. In 1989, he became the main presenter of Channel 4 News, a role that he would hold for 32 years.

Snow travelled all over the world as part of the job, reporting on stories like the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama’s inauguration and the earthquake in Haiti.

Over the course of his career, Snow has received a number of awards for his journalistic work, including the Richard Dimbleby Bafta award for Best Factual Contribution to Television in 2005, and Journalist of the Year (2006) and Presenter of the Year (2009) from the Royal Television Society awards.

In 2004, Snow released his autobiography, Shooting History, which was published by Harper Perennial.

Who is his wife Precious Lunga?

In 2010, Snow married his now wife, Precious Lunga, Zimbabwean epidemiologist, born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia, on 4 October 1974.

Speaking to the New Statesman in 2011, Lunga said: “I grew up [in Zimbabwe] until I was 17, then I came to the UK to do my studies and I stayed.

“I went to a convent school; most girls didn’t do science. When I was at school, I loved history and all these other subjects.

“I remember one of the nuns saying to me, “You’re good at science, so you must do science.” And my parents always encouraged me.”

After moving to the UK, she went on to earn a first class degree in Neuroscience from the University of Edinburgh in 1998.

Five years later, she gained her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, in 2003. Following her Neuroscience doctorate, Lunga began working for the Medical Research Council, focusing on HIV/Aids.

Jon Snow and Precious Lunga at the After Party dinner for the BAFTA awards in 2010 (Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Speaking about her experience as a woman in a highly male-dominated field, Lunga said: “When I say, “I’m a scientist,” you can see them blinking. I did an outreach event at a school in Camden, where I dressed up as a scientist and explained the whole point of science and a girl said to me, “Wow — you’re a woman and you’re a scientist!” And that’s in London.”

In 2015, Lunga hosted a TEDx talk, and was also invited as a guest on the BBC Radio 4 series Great Lives.

Lunga and Snow first met in 2001 on the Caribbean island of Mustique, and married on 26 March 2010 on that very same island.

Prior to his relationship with Lunga, Snow had been with human rights lawyer Madeleine Colvin, whom he was with for 35 years, although they never married.

Does Jon Snow have children?

During his 35 year long relationship with Colvin, the pair had two daughters together, Leila and Freya.

Speaking about his relationships with his daughters, Snow told the Guardian in a 2016 interview: “I have an incredibly close relationship with them.

“I don’t dare to give any parenting advice because I don’t pretend to be an expert myself.

“However, I do worry that kids these days are glued to their electronic devices and I worry about the negative issues that come from that, such as cyberbullying, peer pressure and sexting.

“We need to go back to basics, reading to children at night, because it’s an invaluable bonding experience and gives them a thirst for learning.”

Jon Snow became a father for the third time in 2021 (Photo: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

Snow recently became a father for the third time this year at the age of 74.

In March, Snow and Lunga announced the birth of their baby boy.

In a statement, Snow revealed that their son was carried by a surrogate, after he and Lunga experienced “numerous medical setbacks and miscarriages”.

He said: “In our desire to seal our now 11 years of marriage with a baby, my wife suffered numerous medical setbacks and miscarriages.

“Consequently, we will always be deeply grateful to our surrogate, who carried our embryo to term. Amid these challenging times, we feel doubly blessed to be able to celebrate our good fortune.”

What did Jon Snow say on his last show?

Signing off on his final programme, Snow said that presenting Channel 4 News had been “the greatest privilege of my life”.

He said that the role had been “wonderful and rewarding” and paid tribute to his production team and colleagues.

Concluding his final programme, which aired at 7pm on Thursday, Snow said: “Well, 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.”

The broadcaster called his time one Channel 4 News “the greatest privilege” of his life (Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images For Altitude Film)

He continued: “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 our independent news in primetime.

“Thank you to all the people who have trusted me with their stories all over the world in often appalling circumstances.

“But most of all, I’m so grateful to you at home. It’s not always an easy watch. 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.”

In emotional scenes following the programme’s end, Snow was clapped out of the building by his colleagues – a journalistic tradition.

What tributes were paid to him?

Colleagues and fellow broadcasters paid tribute to Snow ahead of his final Channel 4 News programme.

Prior to his final show on Thursday evening, Channel 4 News communications director Hayley Barlow shared a photo on Twitter of Snow looking out across the newsroom.

She wrote: “Going to be an emotional day, our last shift working together, before the Channel 4 News lights dim at 8pm.”

Former Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan made reference to Snow’s fondness of colourful ties.

He tweeted: “Farewell Snowy ⁦@jonsnowC4⁩ after 32 years at Channel 4 News.

“You’ve been a consistently brilliant news broadcaster, and aside from the ludicrous ties, and dodgy helmets, a lot of fun too. Congrats on a great run – I’ll miss you!”

Jon Snow watching a Boccia match at the Paralympics in 2004 (Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Channel 4 News correspondent Ciaran Jenkins shared a video of Snow performing a sea shanty that went viral on TikTok earlier this year.

He wrote on Twitter: “The legendary @jonsnowC4 presents @Channel4News for the last time tonight. A superb journalist, unique communicator and an inspiration to so many of us.”

Referencing the lyrics of the shanty, he added: “‘One day when the tonguing is done we’ll take our leave and go.’

“We’ll miss you so much Jon.”

ITV News presenter Lucrezia Millarini described Snow as a “legend”.

She added: “Wow. A constant on-screen presence in my household growing up. Then I was lucky enough to work in the same building.”

Adam Fowler, a reporter at ITV Yorkshire, described Snow’s departure as the “end of an era”.

He added: “I’ve been a fan my entire career. Will be sorely missed.”

What is he doing next?

As the 74-year-old steps down from the helm of Channel 4 news after 32 years, Snow will continue to work with Channel 4 on long-form projects and spend more time focusing on his charitable work.

The veteran broadcaster is set to front a new Channel 4 programme, visiting three communities in which people “live to extraordinary ages”.

The show, titled How To Live To 100, will follow Snow as he ventures to communities based in Japan, California and the Greek islands.

Jon Snow will continue to work with Channel 4 (Photo: MJ Kim/Getty Images)

Snow will “immerse himself in their lives – living, working and eating alongside them” as he looks to unearth the reasons the residents “live longer and lead less stressful and healthier lives than most people anywhere else on the planet”, an announcement said.

Snow said: “As an older man myself, I’m intrigued by one of my assignments for next year – it is to visit three communities: one in Greece, another in Japan, and yet another in California.

“There is something particularly peculiar about these communities – in that people live to extraordinary ages – often in excess of one hundred years old.

“We shall be trying to find out what it is about their way of life which I for one could benefit from!”

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