The School of Journalism and Communication celebrates the investiture of one of its most distinguished graduates, Bill Fox, as a Member of the Order of Canada.

Parliamentary bureau chief, foreign correspondent, savvy political insider, business executive, university lecturer, and trenchant analyst of the legacy and social media, he has made more than one career over the course of his life. In each, he has risen to positions of influence where his counsel has been essential, trusted, and acted upon. His latest book, Trump, Trudeau, Tweets, Truth: A Conversation, will be published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in March 2021.

“We are very proud of Bill and thrilled that his numerous and important contributions to public life in Canada have been recognized with this honour,” says Josh Greenberg, Director of the School of Journalism and Communication.

“Bill is one of our most distinguished alumni, holding a master’s degree in journalism and a doctorate in communication, our School’s highest degree,” Greenberg says. “His dissertation was a theoretically and historically important piece of scholarship examining how media effects theories could be applied to case studies of financial reporting and financial markets.”

Fox, as he is known to his friends and colleagues, has long been a champion of the students of Carleton University, where he began his studies in the Bachelor of Journalism, although he was such a promising young reporter he was poached by the Ottawa Citizen before completing his degree. He started off as a police reporter, took a year off to study in Paris at the Sorbonne, returned to Canada as Quebec correspondent for Southam News, and became Parliamentary correspondent in 1977. He then joined the Toronto Star, where he served as Ottawa Bureau Chief, Washington Bureau Chief, and Latin American correspondent.

In the 1980s, he began the political phase of his professional life. From 1984 to 1987 he was Press Secretary and then Director of Communications for Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Afterward he became a founding partner of Earnscliffe Strategy Group, specializing in issues management – advising on those turbulent moments when politics, policy, the press and public opinion all collide.

This ignited his analytic attention to the news media and prompted his return to Carleton, where he took his Master of Journalism with a thesis on coverage of the 1993 federal election.

In 1995, he moved to Harvard University as a fellow of the Joan Shorenstein Centre on Press, Politics and Public Policy, at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he conducted the research for his book Spinwars: Politics and New Media (1999). 

Next came the corporate phase of his career as he worked for three of Canada’s largest and most emblematic companies. He was Senior Vice-President of Public Affairs at CN and then Bombardier, Inc., and subsequently Executive Vice-President of Communications and Corporate Development at Bell Canada Enterprises.

When he left the corporate sector he returned again to Carleton and the School of Journalism and Communication to complete his doctorate. This inaugurated the phase of his professional life as an educator. He spent five years as Adjunct Professor at the Queen’s University School of Public Policy Studies, where he taught a graduate seminar on public policy and the media. He was elected a Senior Fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto, and has been a Fellow of Carleton’s Clayton Riddell Graduate Program in Political Management since its founding in 2011. He was the original practitioner-in-residence of the Riddell program, the founder of its Student Experience Fund, and has taught courses in strategic communications and media relations.

“Bill is one of those rare people who has managed to fuse together three of the key elements of public affairs in Canada,’’ says Allan Thompson, head of the journalism program at Carleton. “He is the culmination of his enormous experience as a professional journalist, his time at the highest levels of government and industry in strategic communications and partisan politics and finally his accomplished career as a communications scholar.”

Throughout his professional life, he has devoted his time and energy to a variety of initiatives in the public interest. He served as the Chair of the Juries of Carleton’s Arthur Kroeger Awards for Public Affairs, recognizing people and agencies who do exemplary work on behalf of their fellow Canadians. In addition to chairing Place de la Francophonie 2010, a not-for-profit organization whose mission was to showcase French language and culture during the Vancouver Olympics, he has served on the boards of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Toronto International Film Festival, the Walrus Magazine Advisory Board, and the Canadian Journalism Foundation.

Monday, November 30, 2020 in , ,
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