you are among those who believe
craftsmen don't get enough respect for
their accomplishments, here is a way to
help make “Craftsmanship” and
“labor” respected words again. We
have to be realistic and realize that
newspapers aren’t going to print a
section just about craftsmanship, but
perhaps they will do a section on the
labor side of business. I’ll be the
first to admit this is a long shot, but
with your help you never know.
truly believe that the long term effect
of mass produced products in the world
today has been the loss of personal
contact between the user of products and
the craftsmen who produce them.
Consumers believe that all products come
from machines and that a magnificent
building suddenly appears because a
brilliant architect designed it and a
bunch of unskilled laborers assembled
could be farther from the truth. Today
the tooling to build the high-speed
manufacturing processes requires more
skill to design and build than that
which was required of the craftsmen who
produced the products in years past. The
beautiful structures of today are the
result of the efforts of many trades
coordinating their skills to complete
large projects in record time. The
building trades have become more
specialized in recent years because the
subcontractors have become more
specialized, not because the workers are
Consider these facts:
1) Mondays present a content problem for every newspaper’s business section because the stock markets were closed all weekend, so this would be a good place for a section devoted to labor news.
2) A survey will find that many more newspaper readers fall into the “labor” category than the “business” category when it comes to employment.
3) All major newspapers have a business section, but few, if any, have a labor section. This would be an area to become a leader in journalism rather than a follower.
The main goal of the Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship is to promote good craftsmanship, and, in doing so, make the general public more aware of the magnificent work that craftsmen and tradesmen do daily without fanfare. I believe the reason that labor topics aren’t covered in newspapers is that the people who decide on and produce the content know little about the trades. Journalists are usually the people who got A’s in English in school. They don’t find what labor does interesting, so they don’t write about it. A good labor section would need a reporter who understands the challenges and rewards of working in labor and the trades. Expert financial and business writers have spent a lot of time learning about those aspects of business, but in most cases they just don’t understand or appreciate the intelligence it takes to be a good craftsman and what good craftsmen are capable of doing. Henry Ford was a craftsman long before he was a businessman. The businessman who owns the army of road graders, dump trucks and concrete laying machines constructing the interstate highway near you most likely didn’t start with a degree in business. He probably started with a wheelbarrow and a pickup truck doing quality work.
that labor deserves it's own section at
least once a week; however, after 30
years of business experience I realize
the resistance to trying something new.
Once a month would be a major
improvement. It's just the right thing
to do. September 11, 2001 taught America
that the “heroes” in this country
are not the movie stars, baseball
players and CEO’s that we used to
glorify. Regular people doing their jobs
extremely well, like the local policeman
or fireman in New York, came into much higher regard
once people saw firsthand what their
jobs involved. If you think they are the
only people who risk their lives daily,
try sending a reporter to follow the
typical day of an ironworker building a
bridge or skyscraper.
That brings us to the obvious question of what this new labor page could contain. Here are some suggestions:
∙ A feature story monthly about one of the trades. The article would detail exactly what these tradesmen do, how they coordinate their work with other trades, wages for average workers, physical requirements, length of apprenticeship, working conditions, safety considerations, a list of local unions and availability of employment.
∙ Stories about the small, local businesses that are selling craftsmanship; such as shoemakers, bakers, cabinet and furniture makers, custom auto paint shops, welders, masons, sign painters, machinists, etc. These would not be just anyone in these businesses, but the ones who make extra effort to be the best in their area or offer something special.
∙ Unions shown in a positive light. In my life I have never read a story explaining how the large building contractors benefit from unions. For example, a contractor may suddenly need 300 skilled employees to complete a project they were awarded. Unions will supply the skilled help needed until the job is completed. Think about how union workers pitched in and saved the day during the 9/11 crises. How about the union workers who worked seven days a week after the Northridge earthquake to replace collapsed bridges in record time?
∙ Union happenings, promotions, social events
∙ A listing of labor jobs that are available locally and the skills required
∙ Accidents that happened to local workers or health concerns of different trades. What will be done in the future to prevent these problems
∙ Local stories about the graduation of an apprentice or sons or daughters following in their parent’s footsteps in the trades
∙ Stories about seemingly simple jobs that take a special skill, like a waitress who takes a complex food order for ten people on a scrap of paper or by memory (an engineer would need 100 pages to convey the same information), or how field workers can handle heavy items for ten hours in 105 degree heat by pacing themselves
These are just a few examples of
the type of interesting articles that
could be written about labor using a
little creative journalism that many
readers would enjoy. At the same time
your newspaper would be better serving
your local community because we can’t
all be businessmen or journalists. It
would give the labor segment of the
community at least one day out of seven
when their efforts could be documented
and appreciated. Some positive stories
would be a nice change after six days of
bankruptcies, crooked CEO’s and
As an additional consideration
for newspaper editors, the advantage of
this type of article is that most do not
require a short deadline. General
interest articles could be prepared well
in advance and used when appropriate.
Any portion of this letter may be used without
mentioning its author, Joe Martin or the Foundation as long it is used in a
positive manner. My goal is to make the public aware of the work done by the
great craftsmen of the world, not Joe Martin. Comments or suggestions regarding
this letter can be addressed to The Joe Martin
Foundation, ATTN: Craig Libuse, 3190 Lionshead Avenue, Carlsbad,
CA 92010, or email email@example.com.
Thank you for your
Thank you for your
RETURN TO THE MUSEUM HOME PAGE
Copyright 20011, The Joe Martin Foundation
for Exceptional Craftsmanship. All rights reserved.
No part of this web site, including the text, photos or illustrations, may be reproduced or transmitted in any other form or by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording or otherwise) for commercial use without the prior written permission of The Joe Martin Foundation. Reproduction or reuse for educational and non-commercial use is permitted.