“The newspaper is a classic product of the Industrial Revolution. Its manufacture, which has barely changed in 150 years, requires a huge physical plant dominated by complex machines that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase and maintain. Crews of manual laborers must load and unload many tons of paper, take care of the machinery as the newspaper is inked and colored and cut and folded, and oversee the interweaving of its sections. After all that, a brigade of truckers shows up to take the papers on an hours-long delivery tour. This must happen seven days a week, under any conceivable weather condition, every day of the year, forever.
And that is merely the blue-collar side of the business. The white-collar side employs hundreds of workers as well: writers and editors and photographers and graphic designers to fill the pages with copy and images, advertising salesmen to fill them with ads, a circulation department to make sure the paper gets to paying customers, and dozens of executives supervising it all.
This labor-intensive process is precisely the model that has been upended in industry after industry, driven to painful change by technological innovation and competitive threats.”
October 1, 2012
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