Ruling in the Hulk Hogan Case
This week we learned that a jury awarded Hulk Hogan $115 million (US) because an online source posted a salacious video of Hogan having sex.
The video was posted allegedly without Hogan’s knowledge or permission and, according to the New York Times, a jury in Florida agreed the action was “an invasion of privacy” on the part of Gawker.com, which offered its viewers the video’s viewing.
What exactly is Gawker.com?
When I searched for Gawker on my online browser this is what I found:
Honestly: I doubt gossip is a way to truth.
Indeed, the code of ethics of journalists is to seek truth, according to the Society of Professional Journalists.
So: if the video is truthful, then what’s the problem? Why might a jury award millions of dollars in damages?
Turns out truth isn’t the only issue that journalists confront.
Privacy and permission are also important.
The court reckons that Hogan—who is a retired wrestler and erstwhile celebrity—is entitled to some degree of privacy regardless of his celebrity status.
While many news-folk wring their hands over the court’s decision—which they frame as a death-knell for freedom of speech—the hand-wringing is misplaced.
News efforts to seek the truth need not tarry into bedrooms of retired wrestlers on the flimsy excuse of fact-finding.
Such excuses do nothing to enlighten the public or serve justice and democracy, as stated in the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics.
Rather, airing a sex video does nothing for democracy and everything for voyeuristic titillation: which is hardly a function of ethical journalism.