In my opinion the digital workflow for stock is much faster, cheaper, and easier than pre-digital. Shot properly a stock image should require less than a minute to select the best among similar shots, maybe another minute to apply a standard PS action for minor contrast and sharpening adjustment, and less than a minute or two to keyword and upload. Any more than that is way too long in the current stock environment.
I still spend countless hours in Photoshop but only with my fine art work that gives me much more satisfaction than stock.
I disagree with your opinion about the speed advantage of digital for stock, for all genres of photography.
Film was already photoshopped, it only had to be processed, duplicated, mounted, captioned (only event, date and competitors name could be squeezed onto each mount) and posted. I didn't waste my time processing chrome film as this freed-up time to shoot, carry out office based tasks, or more often than not, wash my smalls in time to make the next flight out of the country.
Pro digital cameras are far more expensive than pro film cameras. The client paid for the film, processing, costs, scanning and pre press without batting an eye lid - these days some clients scratch their heads in bewilderment and bitch if digital processing fees are quoted - some photographers' only have themselves to blame, they helped create the now widely believed notion that digital is cheaper - computer hardware costs, processing time, skill and effort should be free?
No matter how skilled the operator, the digital workflow, time-wise, is 'brutal' in comparison to film. Covering a major sports event with a large contingent of top flight players, shooting RAW, with all manner of lighting throughout the day and DAM tasks, is not my idea of fun - regardless of image adjustment pre-sets, batch processing and pre-prepared metadata templates. Accurate keywording is a slow process for multiple competitors performing multiple tasks.
Image searches were performed by art directors' and picture researchers' without the requirement of computer metadata. They made selections based on the player and type of image required from groups of slides submitted from an event, or from material retained in 'their' filing system. Prior to DIY scanning, top grade libraries carried out this painstaking task with drum scanners.
RAW processing and DAM must be a breeze for those taking an occasional landscape image, or multiple pictures of the same beer can using a digital camera for stock.