Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Live now: Updates from the courtroom

#HulkvsGawk: Tap here to browse our complete live blog

Expert journalism witness in Gawker sex tape trial acknowledges times have changed

ST. PETERSBURG — Attorneys for the website Gawker got their chance Thursday to question an expert witness for the former wrestler Hulk Hogan, and they used their time to make him appear as out-of-touch with modern journalistic practices as possible.

The questions began innocently enough. But within a few minutes of taking the stand, University of Florida journalism professor Mike Foley was forced to acknowledge it had been 43 years since he was a reporter and nearly two decades since he worked in a newsroom.

There were repeated references to "back in the day," when he was the executive editor of the Tampa Bay Times in the early 1990s.

LIVE BLOG: Keep up with the latest developments from the case of Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker

"When you were last in a newsroom, there was no Facebook, right? There was no YouTube, right? There was no Twitter?" asked Gawker Media attorney Michael Sullivan. "You're familiar with Twitter?"

Foley has a Twitter account, but the point was made.

"Things have changed," he allowed.

A day earlier, Foley testified that when Gawker published an excerpt of a sex tape featuring Hogan in 2012, it had violated the Society of Professional Journalists' code of ethics and the former wrestler's right to privacy. Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, is suing Gawker for $100 million in damages.

Although the existence of the sex tape was news, Foley said, the tape itself was "not newsworthy." Publishing even one-minute and 41-seconds, as Gawker did, was gratuitous.

On Thursday, Gawker's attorneys reminded Foley that when he worked for the Times, he defended the newspaper's decision to publish a nude photograph of actor Demi Moore that had stirred controversy when it ran on the cover of Vanity Fair.

In a column, Foley rationalized the choice, writing: "It's interesting and people were talking about it."

Gawker had defended itself similarly, arguing that because Bollea boasted about his sex life in graphic detail on TV and radio shows, he had made the video fair game for the press. But Foley said the two incidents had little in common. Unlike Moore, who willingly posed for the photographer Annie Leibovitz, Bollea says he did not know he was being recorded.

"Is it as wrong today to post pornography as it was in 1992?" asked Bollea attorney Charles Harder.

"I don't think things have changed that much, if at all," Foley replied.

Contact Anna M. Phillips at or (813) 226-3354. Follow @annamphillips on Twitter.

Expert journalism witness in Gawker sex tape trial acknowledges times have changed 03/10/16 [Last modified: Thursday, March 10, 2016 6:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Looking Back: Have you ever heard of Goose Pond?


    I've lived in St. Petersburg most of my life. After a brief spell in North Carolina, my family moved back to St. Petersburg for good in 1978. And in all that time I've never heard the area around Central Plaza referred to as "Goose Pond."

    1952: Factors which made the Central Plaza development logical can be discerned in this photo, by those who know the realty situaiton here. Low grade and a 55-acre school site in storage kept the 90-acre Goose Pond (upper center) almost bare until now. 


  2. Red Cross finds launching pad for Hurricane Irma help at Idlewild Baptist

    Human Interest

    LUTZ — The Rev. Ron Alexander, pastor of Baxterville Baptist Church in Lumberton, Miss., stirred gallons of chili in the mid-afternoon heat on Monday.

    The Rev. Ron Alexander, pastor of Baxterville Baptist Church in Mississippi, stirs a pot of chili. He is part of the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief team stationed at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz.
  3. Young girl injured by 105 mph foul at Yankee Stadium renews call for more netting


    NEW YORK — A young girl at Yankee Stadium was injured by a 105 mph foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier during Wednesday's game against Minnesota, leading some players to call for protective netting to be extended.

    Baseball fans reacts as a young girl is tended to before she is carried out of the seating area after being hit by a line drive in the fifth inning of a baseball game between the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, at Yankee Stadium in New York. [Associated Press]
  4. Florida education news: Accountability plan, post-Irma, turnarounds and more


    ACCOUNTABILITY: The Florida Department of Education submits a revised Every Student Succeeds Act plan without the waiver requests it had originally proposed. Experts and advocates …

    High Point Elementary teacher Kristen Bierman works with English language learners on their reading skills. The state wants to test all students in English, saying it's Florida law.