The defamation payout of Rebel Wilson is proof that $4.5m its risky to be in the celebrity gossip business and, according to experts, Australian media now will refrain from celebrity divorces, casual affairs and unwanted pregnancies. This will, in turn, have an immediate impact on celebrity gossip magazines since there will be less dramatic news about their hook ups and the like.
There have been instances of Australian celebrities being mocked before. Bec Hewitt, the wife of tennis player Lleyton Hewitt, dragged New Idea to court for a covering a false story against her, but did not sue them for defamation. Unlike her, Wilson went all out to display his hurt and anger.
Wilson even went to the extent of bringing up stories from her childhood and the past in order to prove her innocence, while Bauer was overly confident of not losing the case to Wilson which resulted in a grave loss. He now will have to pay them in millions and will also have to reassess the entire strategy of publication for their magazines
Mark Pearson believes this issue sends out a loud and clear message which will shake the roots of the gossip industry : that one should not feed upon undue gossip. This is because Australian celebrities wish to maintain their respect and privacy.
By virtue of the internet, a jury of 6 people confirmed Wilson’s claim against the publisher of the magazine. The articles were found to be imaginative and the defendant’s triviality defences were rejected by the judge. Being an expert, Pearson was one of the first people who said that Australia did not have tough defamation laws like the British and American boast of, hence addressing the issue. But, in Australia, one needs to answer to the masses when a claim is made on a person with a celebrity status.
It is against journalism ethics to damage anyone’s reputation in Australia. Rebel also mentioned that these magazines make up stuff due to lack of true stories to publish. These magazines are struggling with their trade and celebrities fall prey to their unethical tactics. But this situation has set an example that one cannot get away with telling lies publicly, said Burrowes.
This has also put pressure on the editors to check for the authenticity of facts before publishing them in the magazines, says King, who writes a column for Pacific Magazines, New Idea. He continues saying that he would be under tremendous pressure if he were given the responsibility of editing and checking stories which might just turn out to be game changers in the future.