Metaphors: More General Motors

William Durant and General Motors
Tommy Thomason’s Pew Report is good news and bad news for community journalism

William Durant didn’t like automobiles.

Durant, who was in the carriage business in the 1890s, thought cars were smelly and noisy, not to mention downright dangerous.  But he realized that automobiles, as distasteful as he thought them to be, were the wave of the future.  So he left his still-successful carriage company, one of the world’s largest, to join the new Buick company.

Ultimately, Durant went on to found General Motors.

The point?  Durant’s times were a lot like ours.  He was living at the edge of a paradigm shift-a whole new mode of transportation.  Cars did not take over from carriages immediately, but within a decade, it was obvious that they would soon rule the road.

We live in a similar age, but the paradigm that’s shifting is communication, not transportation.  One advantage that Durant had over today’s current industry-in-crisis — newspapers — is that the industrial landscape of his day was shifting more slowly.  Metro newspapers have gone from boom to bust in a decade (though many in the know have been pointing to the danger signs for metros even before the advent of the Internet).

via Steve Buttry

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