Nobody denies that newspaper have been having a tough go these past few years. What with this newfangled internet and Twitter business all the rage, it's tough for a journalist to stay relevant — or even employed.
A good friend of mine saw this long ago and after a few drinks enjoyed comparing the newspaper industry to the Saddle Industry.
Yes, horse saddles.
Think about — everyone used to have one. It was you mode of transportation, and every city had one or two saddle makers for the entire ctiy, no matter how remote the outpost was.
But then Ford had to go and mass produce the automobile and gum it up for all those saddle makers, putting many out of business and forcing a nation-wide industry to reevaluate its place in modern business.
So what does this all mean? Well, I found this fantastic interview with a current Saddle Maker — Yes! Some did survive! — and to listen to him talk about his industry and how it came out in the end is remarkable.
Along with just the ingenuous spirit of saddle makers and how they survived the twisting and turning changes of their own industry, it is also interesting to replace Saddle Makers with newspapers and realize we might be looking in a mirror.
"Yes. The industry has also specialized into segments. In the old days we were called manufacturing “jobbers.” We made saddles and tack and “jobbed” everything from bits to saddle soap. Not many do that today. People started specializing in pads, protective equipment, whips, bits, and spurs. So the industry is segmented now and everyone specializes in a particular part. That’s a big change from the 50s and 60s."Hm, newspaper outsourcing specific jobs in a labor intensive newsroom and printing processes? News organizations becoming more specialized in the way of Technology-only, Sports-only, Politics-only and doing relatively well?
— Dan Crates, saddle maker
Maybe we had a few too many when we used to talk this wild talk in the hey-days, but I think it is fairly telling and might behoove some of those Mine Shaft operators to talk with some of those old Saddle Makers, or Buggie repairmen to find out how they survived the demise of their own industry.