The purpose of newspapers is to sell customers to the advertisers. The ad buyers buy ad space, and as a part of this purchase they expect the newspapers to do their outmost to make sure that as many people see these ads. This by making themselves readworthy, and by process of mass distribution transforming the ads into profits. You, the readers, are the product, sold to the advertisers. For profit.
This is what newspapers is about. This is the one thing they do as a channel of communication.
I suspect someone might want to make some objections to this. Objections such as that the newspapers constitute a watchdog function on the public sphere, that they inform the public about important current events in in business and politics, that local newspapers serve to keep geographical regions coherent by discussing local affairs, that they provide citizens with an arena for debate and dialogue -
One could raise quite a few objections to the reduction of newspapers to a purely economic function. One could even make a case that the purely economic functions are of secondary importance to the vital social, societal and political functions that newspapers provide.
I concede this point.
With that said, isn't it time that we start talking about file sharing in the same way, without constantly getting stuck in this economic reduction to absurdity?
Originally published June 7, 2012