Hulk Hogan Lawsuit

How Will Gawker’s Defeat Against Hulk Hogan Affect Clickbait And Hit-And-Run Journalism?

According to the Guardian, Gawker was just crushed again as Hulk Hogan was rewarded an additional $25 million in punitive damages from the lawsuit against the website. This is in addition to the $115 million Hogan was rewarded last week, almost four years after Gawker posted parts of a sex tape taken without Hogan’s knowledge.

There isn’t much sympathy for Gawker, a site that started off unique, but turned into clickbait destruction over the past five years or so. After all, as reported by the New York Magazine, this is the same site that outed a Condé Nast executive, who’s married to a woman, for allegedly arranging to meet up with a gay escort on a trip to Chicago. Gawker removed the story, but the damage was already done.

Like many of Gawker‘s victims, the Condé Nast executive did nothing to deserve such cruel treatment. If he was an anti-gay Republican or a Catholic priest, the story would have had a purpose to expose hypocrisy. But this was just the latest example of what is commonly referred to as “hit-and-run” journalism that may be on its last legs.

Nick Denton Gawker
Gawker’s Nick Denton certainly isn’t smiling anymore. [Photo by John Pendygraft/Getty Images]
Gawker‘s nasty journalism spilled over to its sister site Jezebel, which was once thought of as a top feminist site. The writers on Jezebel have been great, but one wonders what editorial leadership forced them to body shame Lena Dunham by offering $10,000 for unretouched Vogue pictures. The site also claims to be against rape culture, but certainly didn’t mind posting a recent rape image, which caused the site to be accused of sensationalism. There have been too many sensationalized and pointless articles on Gawker’s sister “feminist” site, many aimed at tearing down other women. The purpose of all this: clickbait.

Any journalist, including the one writing this article, would be lying if they didn’t write partially for the purposes of getting clicks. It’s part of the business. It is how journalists are paid. Oftentimes, we put keywords in the title of an article that we know will attract readers. We will even put major keywords in our articles. However, most journalists write with the purpose of informing an audience, even sometimes moving the audience to take action.

Hulk Hogan Gawker
Hulk Hogan took a major stand against irresponsible journalism. [Photo by John Pendygraft/Getty Images]
On the other hand, “clickbait” journalists don’t write for a purpose. They write solely to enrage their audience so they click on the article, comment on it, encourage others to read it, etc. A perfect example would be if President Obama dressed as Jack The Ripper on Halloween and tabloids ran the headline “President Obama Is a Murderer.” Reddit has a perfect example of clickbait titles.

The problem with clickbait articles is that many of them are aimed at destroying the reputation of a business, celebrity, or even a politician. The article may contain a nasty title and when someone clicks on it, they may see a bunch of provocative lies or even a video that likely wasn’t authorized. It’s hard for people to sue, especially in the United States, where one has to prove that not only was the article libelous, but it was written with the intent of being libelous and it has caused damage. However, after Gawker‘s recent loss, clickbait hit-and-run articles may be too costly for bloggers and newspapers to publish.

[Photo by John Pendygraf/Getty Images]