More than 99 percent of all US companies are small businesses, and more than half of all American workers work for one. In California, women own or co-own more than 44 percent of them, and members of a minority group own more than one third. Small businesses play a vital role in the economy and the lives of tens of millions of Americans. So why is it so hard to find news coverage about them? There is much fine reporting coverage in the Bay Area, but also way too much coverage of Apple, Google, Apple, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, and Apple. Small businesses touch far more lives than the iPhone, government, crime, Lindsay Lohan, or the Oakland Raiders, but try finding evidence of that in the local media.
Starting with this week’s issue of the East Bay Express, we will be are addressing this long-standing lapse in coverage. Inside this newspaper, and inside every issue on the last Wednesday of the month, you will find a copy of our new Small Business Monthly.
If you have seen the ads, you already know something about what you’ll find. We will feature regular columns about the East Bay’s retail scene, and the ways in which government policies help or hurt small businesses. We’ll feature helpful advice columns from Berkeley financial planner Jonathan DeYoe and Oakland small business attorney Jenny Kassan, and allow you to submit your own questions to local businesspersons or consultants. We’ll publish a monthly business calendar containing opportunities to learn new skills and network with new people. And each month we’ll publish a profile and feature story from a different business sector.
But wait, you say. Business coverage in the Express? What’s up with that?
Business coverage need not be boring, banal, or boosterish. It need not surrender its critical judgment nor worship at the altar of “too big to fail.” We’ll seek out businesses with new ideas and fresh points of view, because we know what many of you know — that small businesses are perhaps the most revolutionary force in society.
We’ll also define small business more broadly than you’re used to seeing. Sheet-metal fabricators, law firms, and trucking companies are small businesses, but so too are T-shirt makers, rock bands, and taco trucks. We’ll write about all of them, and look for the commonalities that unite them.
Like any other small business, Small Business Monthly is both a labor of love and a work in progress. I’m sure you can be counted on to let us know how we’re doing.