Alumni Memory: Joe Fox, BJ ’71

Anything for a story!

For some reason I ended up news editor of the Carleton radio station for a while in 1971. At that time CKCU was limited to broadcasting via wires to speakers in buildings on campus. So our reach was limited.

One day when there was not much happening on campus (that we knew about, anyway), we noticed a Governor General’s Foot Guard poster on the wall recruiting students to wear big bearskin hats and parade around government buildings. The requirements said nothing about having to be male. Two brave females volunteered to head down to the recruiting hall to get the scoop on what excuse the army would come up with to frustrate the burgeoning female rights movement.

The students passed the physical (even though one young woman was hearing impaired and fooled the recruiter by reading lips), but sure enough they played into our hands and came up with a technicality to disqualify the pair. It made for a funny little radio story and learning experience for us and would have stayed there, except someone tipped off the Ottawa Citizen and the next day our fledgling reporters were in the main photo at the top of Page One with a story above the fold. (Like I said, it was a slow news day).

Looking back, besides being one of my favourite memories of my days at Carleton, it was a teachable moment on several levels. It takes the new out of fake news, for one thing. Stunts by the media to make a point have a long history.
(After graduation, as a reporter and later as an assignment editor at The Windsor Star and The Toronto Star’s entertainment department, I occasionally resorted to the creative stimulation of events honed at Carleton that day, although seldom with front-page results). And the Governor General’s Foot Guards did start recruiting women in the 1980s. – Joe Fox (BJ ’71)

Alumni Memories are part of Carleton Journalism’s 75th Anniversary.

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Monday, December 21, 2020 in
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