The Washington Post opined that the “$115 million legal body slam Friday against Gawker Media could have deeper implications for the debate between the public’s right to know (and the media’s right to report) and an individual’s right to privacy.” The March 21, 2016 article entitled “Hulk Hogan’s $140.1 million KO in courtroom could have ‘chilling effect’ on media” included these comments from law professors:
Samantha Barbas (State University at Buffalo) – this case will be important because it indicates a change in the cultural mood,… [The jury] is essentially saying too much free speech is dangerous. There are a lot of people who are disgusted with the way the media is corrupting the public sphere.
David Hudson Jr. (Vanderbilt Law School) – It could have some implications for newsgathering,…I think it sort of ratchets up the notion that the public is very [protective] of privacy. It shows the pre-eminency of public concern about privacy.
The Washington Post included this background on Terry Bollea’s (aka Hulk Hogan) lawsuit against Gawker:
In 2012, it published excerpts of a video in which Hogan has sex with a friend’s wife. Hogan claimed that publication of the video caused him to lose endorsements and inflicted emotional harm. Gawker argued that publication was protected by the First Amendment and that Hogan/Bollea had waived some of his right to privacy by bragging about his sexual exploits in interviews.
Since this case will be appealed, it’s too soon to know the true impact.