Editorial: All hail the top 10 per centers

When was the last time you were in your car and you heard the radio squawk the latest study from the University of Wherever?

If you consume news like me, then it was probably not that long ago and the study’s claims probably provoked a mutter to yourself of “really?” or “Whaaaat?”

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The most recent to wave over my earlobes and actually touch base with the brain, however, was one which resonated with my personal experiences throughout 45 years.

Apparently — and I, shamefully, can’t recall which academic institution it surfaced from — the majority, or 80 per cent, of any given community or large peer group are, within reason, influenced to a significant degree by the behaviour of the top or bottom 10 per cent in their aforementioned environment.

The top, for argument’s sake, being the positive role models (community leaders, volunteers, the selfless; you get the idea) and the bottom being the negative (cheats, liars, trouble-makers, etc.).

According to the study, whether the majority shifts toward the top or the bottom depends on how vociferous, popular, visible or apparent the opposing 10 per centers are in their communities or groups.

Some of you may have heard of the “80-20 rule” — also known as the “Law of the Vital Few” — whereby 80 per cent of the people can be influenced by 20 per cent of the population.

Although the study and the theories are a tad simplistic, it jives with my observations during the varied paths I’ve trodden.

“Can we get to the point?” I hear you say.

The point is, newspapers such as the Richmond News, and the professional media at large, have a duty to sway the 80 per cent towards the top dudes in our midst and, thus, help in a small way to better society.

Quality human beings, such as Ed and Marie Malinoski, in today’s paper, who’ve devoted their retirement to the local animal shelter and haven’t taken a vacay in 10 years!

You’ll also read today about Joel Baziuk, operations supervisor at the Steveston Harbour Authority, who’s burning the midnight oil in a bid to recycle fishing nets from around the region, nets that are usually dumped at sea, entrapping and killing an estimated thousands of wildlife every year.

However, these people, by nature, are not self-publicists and are often reticent to fly their flag. It’s not the Canadian way, right?

But these are the people in our society, communities and peer groups that should be getting all the attention, adoration and focus — not the gangsters and corrupt politicians who often hog the headlines. And if the top 10 per centers won’t fly their flags, we’re happy to fly it for them.

Alan Campbell is a reporter for the Richmond News.

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