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A Thesis presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School at the

University of Missouri-Columbia


In Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree

Master of Arts




Clyde Bentley, Thesis Committee Chair

MAY 2013

Page 2

! ! !

The undersigned, appointed by the dean of the Graduate School, have examined the

thesis entitled


presented by Michael Davis,

a candidate for the degree of master of arts,

and hereby certify that, in their opinion, it is worthy of acceptance.


Associate Professor Clyde Bentley


Professor Emeritus George Kennedy


Associate Professor Joy Mayer


Assistant Professor Benjamin Warner

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The Columbia Tribune’s place as the largest (in terms of circulation), independent

newspaper in Columbia motivates those interviewed to stay up-to-date on the various


Subjects Six, Seven, Eight and Nine all gave the impression that they read his

work because they have a general sense of respect for his work and the service that he

provides for the community.

“He feels a responsibility to say ‘Hey, I think we should do this, or I don’t think

we should do this.’ He’s the watchdog on the community, if you trust the newspaper,”

Subject Six said.

This idea of Waters as the “watchdog” for the community ties in perfectly with

Lasswell’s (1948) research on the Uses and Gratifications Theory. This subject views

Waters — the lone editorial writer in town — as one of the best defenses against the

outside structures and people that control the people of Columbia. Furthermore, one of

the other “uses” Lasswell discovered was “cultural transmission” (1948). This particular

use is just as appropriate to Waters, his editorials and their application within Columbia.

His musings each day represent the daily concerns of Columbia’s engaged citizenry. His

specific concerns might not be of interest to every single person who reads his work, but

his engagement within this community and his knowledge about it is reflected in his


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Additional Findings

Waters’ editorials might be the “Tribune’s View” in the newspaper but for all of

the respondents, it is all Waters.

When asked whether she views his editorials as the official view of the

newspaper, Subject Two was very clear that she didn’t think that was the case. “I always

think of that as Hank Waters’ view and not necessarily the Tribune, even though he owns

the Tribune.”

Subject Three felt a similar way. He said he saw Waters’ editorials as his own

“personal view and not a consensus.”

The signature on the bottom did leave some readers reassured or respectful of his

decision to sign his editorials. Even before he reads it, Subject Nine appreciates the

transparency and honesty. “Whether you have met him or not, it says HJW III at the end

of his column … But my view is that a signed editorial has far more credibility than an

anonymous one.”

Subject 12 called Waters “accountable” for signing the editorials and that it’s a

“good thing.” He also acknowledged a fact, which although not represented in every

subject interview, is still important. Waters has “been doing that for so long, that any

editorial in that section of the newspaper they would assume it’s from him.”

Waters is the only writer of the editorials, and it seems those interviewed

understand that fact very well.

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