With the Gawker verdict upon us, the opinion-generation machine is purring along at an unprecedented pace. It’s not really surprising that so many in the media are quick to gloat or dismiss any concerns that this case may bring up about a free press; whistling past the graveyard is the industry hobby of journalism. I want to point out: there’s no reason that it can’t be the case that Gawker’s behavior was scuzzy and that this case could have a chilling effect on information gathering and sharing. I keep reading people in the media acting as if this is a binary, like you have to either acknowledge the dangers here or find Gawker’s conduct objectionable. I have my own opinions on both, which I won’t bother to try to convince you of. I will say, though, that it could easily be the case that Gawker shouldn’t have shared that video and that this court case will have non-trivial negative repercussions for our media. There’s no paradox there.
Remember: things can always, always, always get worse.