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The Insight Bureau

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A highly respected journalist, author and broadcaster who is an authority on the political, economic and social developments of Italy, Spain and the Southern Europe region.

John Hooper is currently the Rome correspondent of The Economist. He is also an award-winning author. His latest book, The Italians, has appeared in best-seller lists on both sides of the Atlantic, and a previous work, The Spaniards, won the Allen Lane Award for a best first work of non-fiction. It has since twice been updated as The New Spaniards, most recently in 2006.

John is a veteran journalist and former broadcaster who has more than three decades reporting for leading media organisations; the GuardianThe Economist, the Observer, the BBC, and NBC. At the age of only eighteen, he travelled to Biafra during the Nigerian civil war to make a television documentary, and that set the tone for his illustrious journalistic career.  He has now reported from more than 30 countries, including various war zones - most recently Kosovo and Afghanistan. He developed a special affection for Spain and its people after being posted to Madrid to cover the country's eventful transition to democracy, and later returned. Today, he is a permanent resident of Rome and a respected member of the international media industry.

John Hooper is regularly asked to provide corporate briefings on the political and economic shifts in Europe, the recent Euro Crisis and its impact on Southern Europe, the ever-changing political scene in Italy and key developments affecting Spain. He is frequently called upon to be the chairman and expert moderator of high level business and investment conferences and other international forums, mainly in Italy, Spain and London. Equally, he is often a speaker at international conferences charged with setting the geopolitical and economic scene as a backdrop for the discussions about to take place over the remainder of the conference.

He first worked for the BBC as a current affairs journalist. In 1973, he became the Diplomatic Correspondent for Independent Radio News.  He went to Cyprus following the Turkish invasion to be a freelance reporter for the BBC, the GuardianThe Economist, and NBC.  Following the death of General Franco, he went to Spain to be the Guardian's Madrid Correspondent. He returned to London where he continued to work for the Guardian. He later joined the BBC World Service where he presented the news programme, "Twenty Four Hours".  He returned to Madrid in 1988 to be a freelance reporter for The Economist, the Guardian and the Observer, covering Spain, Portugal and the Maghreb region.  In 1994, he was posted to Rome as Southern Europe Correspondent for the Guardian and subsequently The Observer.  From 1999 to 2003, he was the Guardian and Observer's Central Europe Correspondent, based in Berlin including a time in 2001 when he reported from Afghanistan later in 2001 on the end of the battle of Tora Bora and the defeat of al-Qaida. In 2005, he moved to Italy where he lives and works today, based in Rome.  He continues to write as a freelance columnist, as both Italy correspondent for The Economist and as Southern Europe correspondent for the Guardian.

John holds a degree in history from St. Catharine's College, Cambridge, and is based in Rome.

Sample presentation topics

  • Italy: what we can expect under new leadership?
  • How the Euro Crisis has really changed Southern Europe?
  • An economic and political outlook for Spain, Italy and Southern Europe.
  • My thirty years as a foreign correspondent

    “As British Ambassador to Italy, I was in regular contact with John Hooper, who is not only an accomplished journalist but an experienced speaker and former BBC presenter. He was therefore a natural choice to invite on a number of occasions as both speaker and moderator for seminars and other meetings at my Residence in Rome, the Villa Wolkonsky. John's skills and long experience of Italy mean that he is adept at chairing or moderating discussion of political, economic or cultural topics with a wide range of participants, bringing out a range of views without allowing anyone to dominate discussion and summarising key points to bring a meeting or seminar to a satisfactory conclusion. Feedback from those who participated with him in events at Villa Wolkonsky was invariably positive and I would not hesitate to recommend him for similar events elsewhere.’"
    Edward Chaplin, British Ambassador to Italy 2006-11

    "Hooper’s judgements are sound and informed; his comments on national idiosyncrasies sharp."
    Sir Raymond Carr — British Historian

    “I was lucky enough to have John as a partner at the launch of two of my books. It was a terrific success and the audience loved John’s sense of humour. He came up with challenging questions that allowed me to dig deep into my work. Plus his Italian is close to perfect. I would recommend him to anyone who values professionalism as well as wit.’"
    Mattia B. Bagnoli — Author and Journalist

    "In 2011 I asked John to moderate a key conference at The British School at Rome on the theme of "The End of the Leviathan and the Rise of the Big Society?" This was no simple task, as the views were divergent and the panel international. Despite the presence of several very influential politicians from Italy, young and opinionated UK MPs and a key academic from a leading think tank, John was able to keep the discussion going at a good clip and keep the whole panel engaged over a fairly lengthy timeframe."
    Michael Taylor, Swedish Institute for Public Administration

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