BOSTON (CBS) — There is a reason why we have rules.

If we didn’t have rules of the road, like a red light means stop, and you have to yield to traffic in the rotary, traffic would be even more chaotic and dangerous than it is.

If we didn’t have rules in sports, cheating would overwhelm the game. That’s just the way people are, especially with big money on the table.

And if the written and unwritten rules of journalism are ignored, you wind up with the likes of Gawker, the reptilian New York website that was just eradicated – pending the outcome of their appeal – by a Florida jury in the Hulk Hogan privacy case.

If you’re lucky enough not to know about them, Gawker is an online scandal sheet that specializes in smear jobs and invasion of privacy. A criminal trying to blackmail a New York businessman sent his dirt to Gawker and they printed it, thus joining in the criminal act. They posted an unauthorized video made of Hogan’s bedroom activity, but never bothered to call him to ask about it first.

In fact, they are notorious for ignoring the common rules of journalism that have to do with fairness and basic human decency.

And even though the Hulkster didn’t make an especially sympathetic victim, the jury’s disgust with Gawker’s refusal to abide by the rules was expressed in a verdict that should put the garbage-peddlers out of business, to the dismay of no one with a clue.

The old saying “rules were made to be broken” refers to bad or unjust rules, not rules that promote respect, order and civilized behavior.

The Gawker case proves that even in the wild web frontier, ignoring the rules can be a very risky decision.


Leave a Reply