Be Empathetic and Professional. Lessons from Jon Snow
Jon Snow is one of Britain’s most respected journalists, and worldwide as well. He’s deeply admired because for his qualities, as a journalist and person. There are no airs and graces. He is compassionate and a good laugh. That twitter video when he meets the first lady of Ghana, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, is pure Jon Snow.
I know this too from working with him and on the programme Channel 4 News as a regular freelance producer and self shooting videojournalist (quite rare then)twenty plus years ago. In 2001 after five years working regularly on the programme I was leaving partly through cuts and my own thoughts to pursue a career in startups and academia.
As I said my goodbyes Jon pointed to my camera and said, “is that on?” And then did this. I found the original whole clip whilst going through files at home.
There are deep lessons to be learned here. And I reflect on these at this time of uncertainty, fear and the role journalism ought to play in providing some comfort and asking questions to which we, viewers, seek answers.
To be a journalist in these times can often focus on hard skills, but less so human qualities. Be kind, empathetic and professional. That’s how I would characterise Jon. You can still hold interviewees’ feet to the candle.
I still remember some item we did on Harovians and Jon run me ragged bounding from studio to script, with me trying to keep pace LOL. Working with Jon raised your own game. Being kind, empathetic and professional is something I look to practise, and pass on to newer generations of journalists.
Dr David Dunkley Gyimah is a creative technologist, International Award Winning Videojournalist and Innovator in Journalism. His media career includes working for BBC e.g. Newsnight, ABC News, BBC WS, and Channel 4 News. He’s behind the International award winning cinema journalism film, “8 Days”, how UK newspapers revolutionised the media and has shot films around the world e.g. Russia, Syria border, China, Egypt etc. David is one of the advisors for the British Library’s 2021 News Exhibition. He’s a lecturer at Cardiff University in areas of emerging journalism and AI and comments on Future of News creating impact projects in cultural inclusion and diversity Gyimahd@cardiff.ac.uk