Forget for a moment the question about whether celebrity sex tapes are “newsworthy.” The real question is whether we want juries determining what is, and what is not “newsworthy.”
In March, a Florida jury awarded Hulk Hogan a plum $140 million in his suit against Gawker.com (Bollea v Gawker). Hogan argued that Gawker’s publication of a sex tape was an invasion of privacy, having no “news” value.
If one verdict can put a media company out of business, this seems very much like a form of arbitrary regulation of the press.As I write, Gawker Media appears to be in financial tailspin. In May, Gawker was denied its motion for a new trial or reduction in damages. Gawker was ultimately forced to declare bankruptcy, and its sale to Univision was quickly approved. Then, on August 18, it was announced that Gawker.com would cease operations.