Editorial: July 30, 2012


Life on the Edge

Jamestown Gazette Editor Walt Pickut

According to a January, 2012 report in USA Today, the average cost for an advertiser to buy a Super Bowl spot for this year’s February 5th game pitting the Giants against the Patriots, was $3.5 million, with some time slots costing as much as $4 million. That’s for buying as little as 30 seconds, to say nothing of the millions of dollars spent on producing each of the ads themselves.

Somebody is betting that 30 seconds of beaming a message into your eyeball can make you do what they want you to do. And it seems to work well enough to make their bet pay off.

Meanwhile, other people say hours and hours of TV violence have no impact at all on anyone’s behavior, so it’s OK to give any amount of eye time the broadcasters, or game makers or Hollywood want to sell.

So what’s the truth? Research in persuasion has shown that it depends, at least in part, on the vulnerability of the viewer. If you are close to the edge of an emotional cliff it doesn’t take much to push you over. That’s why most of us don’t do what a lone gunman did in Colorado last week. The question, then, is: Do we have a duty to protect the most vulnerable among us so they are less likely to hurt themselves…and us? While we ponder that, remember that our children, even healthy children, may be the most vulnerable of all.

The good news is that a positive message may be just as powerful, especially for someone who really needs it. There’s our golden opportunity.

This week The Jamestown Gazette introduces you to examples of success. Maybe we can find in them the right inspiration for a better 30 second message, or the right hours and hours of encouragement to nurture our children and those vulnerable souls who might need to be pulled back from the edge of that cliff.

Consider families where skills and work ethics are handed down from generation to generation, where generation after generation, children become great contributors to their community. Visit this week’s Eye on Business column. The Lisciandro family will definitely give you some delicious food for thought.

Then consider the Olympics, or more importantly the young athletes and champions, especially the ones you may know from right here in Chautauqua County and across New York State. At some point in their young lives, probably when they were most open, even vulnerable, somebody simply encouraged them in a way they could go, then helped them be inspired by their own success. A teachable moment may only last 30 seconds but, used well, it may set the course of a lifetime.

And take one more moment to stroll by our Faith Matters column for this week and have a chat with Eric Williams. His contribution may be the best summary we can find for the influence dilemmas we face every day. Eric reminds us: “In the midst of so much darkness, so much grief, so much injustice, so much violence, we can dare to proclaim that there is light and joy and justice and peace.”

Enjoy the Read.


Walt Pickut
The Jamestown Gazette  

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.