A recent Gallup Poll showed that 68% of Americans believe that small businesses do not get enough attention from the Federal government in Washington. Only the poor (77%) and military veterans (81%) had a higher “don’t get no respect” perception.
Dawn Rivers Baker, editor of the MicroEnterprise Journal observes, “If you judge people by what you see in the media, then you wind up assuming that the American people could care less about small businesses. A poll like this makes me wonder if maybe folks are more aware of the universe of small businesses than I thought, and the folks who could care less about small businesses are just the media … and the politicians, of course.”
I would go one step farther than Dawn. The public is aware of small business owners. But the public’s perceptions of what lawmakers think is important is based on what they see covered on TV.
The hunt for ratings causes TV news shows to focus on “news” that titillates. Anna Nicole’s baby grabs headlines. Important but boring small-business issues don’t.
Congress, unfortunately, is not immune to TV ratings. Witness the taxpayer money spent recently on nationally televised Congressional hearings involving the Attorney General — an issue the typical American couldn’t care less about. That was an opportunity to get in front of TV cameras. Working on something that actually matters to small business owners and regular people, like health care reform, would have not have been.
I give the American people credit. They know where the priorities should be.
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The most shocking thing to me is how little respect military veterans get!
More on topic, however, I don’t know that I fully agree with Baker’s quote. The media is criticized a LOT by the general public, especially the news media… often not without reason. However, news media functions like a business — they give the customer, aka the public, what they want to see and read about. If Americans were more concerned with small business affairs (or even say, the environment) over Britney Spears’ latest rehab endeavors, I really think you would see more SMB stories emerge.
Of course the media does focus on sensationalism, but it’s because those are the topics their audience wants to hear about.
Yes, I agree Mila, it is shocking that people think military veterans get so little respect from Washington.
It’s an interesting chicken-and-egg question you raise, too. Does TV media cover sensational issues because want to see it? Yes, I think that’s true with some people.
But on the other hand, if you want to hear about business stuff on TV you basically just have CNN here in the U.S. That tends to be mostly about the stock markets, rather than small business. With other channels, you may have no choice but to hear about Britney because every time you turn on the TV trying to catch real news, you have to wait until the celeb watch is out of the way to get a few crumbs of news.
Anyway, I am glad there is the Internet, which is a great alternative source of information, especially on business stuff.
Small business is the engine that’s pushing this country forward. Or as Homer Simpson said, “The glue that holds together the gears…”
My grandfather founded a window manufacturing company in 1949, employing thousands of people over the years. In economic terms, he touched all of their lives. Granted, he could have spent more time with his family, but his small business bolstered the financial health of so many families over the years.
Anita, I definitely agree that there are two sides to the story. But it’s important not to think of the audience as “passive”, since we can make an active choice in what we read/watch.
You also bring up a great point about the internet — blogs, just to name one example, have revolutionized the gatekeeping process. There have been plenty of times where something spreads around the blogosphere first, and then mainstream media picks it up (which, specifically, can work great for small businesses).
It’s no real surprise to see whose on top of the list – and who will most likely remain there.