Title

Clayton Thomas Rand and the Role of the Rural Press In the Development of Mississippi

Date of Award

2001

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Arthur Kaul

Advisor Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Abstract

Clayton Thomas Rand distinguished himself as owner, publisher, and editor of four Mississippi newspapers in a journalism career that spanned 52 years. He was a nationally syndicated columnist, author, and popular political speaker. His colleagues selected him field-secretary for the Press Congress of the World, as well as president of the Mississippi Press Association and the National Editorial Association. Known to newspaper people as the "Fighting Editor of the Deep South," Rand wrote a daily syndicated column for 34 years that appeared in major newspapers throughout the North and South. He also won national and international awards for editorial writing. Rand declined opportunities to become editor of other, more prestigious publications, desiring instead to become one of Mississippi's prominent editors who forever changed the course of their respective communities. He exerted an influence on public opinion considerably more than local. His keen insight into current events, plus his journalistic and speaking talents, combined with an unparalleled wit, brought him national, as well as local, repute. Rand believed small towns provided America's most stabilizing influence. He believed courageous country editors--presenting the good in their communities along with the bad--were democracy's most sustaining force. He spoke out against elements in America who through ignorance, or willfully, undermined foundations of America's social, economic and political structure. He called America's rural press the republic's first line of internal defense. Rand is an example of contemporary Southern newsmen who championed individual freedom and states' rights while abhorring government intrusion, particularly Northern, into affairs he considered Southern and the purview of individual states. Through Rand's editorial writing, the study of this editor and his journalism career sheds light on the work of the country editor in America, examining contributions rural newspapers made to developing their communities, and in aggregate, their nation. Rand's career spanned a pivotal time in United States, and especially Southern, history. The study uncovers themes and issues Mississippi editors dealt with over a 50-year period--1920 to 1970--easily the most dynamic period of growth, change, and development in the state of Mississippi, in particular, and throughout the South, in general.