Emile Zola is found guilty of libel for writing J'Accuse, an open letter published the previous month. In J'Accuse, Emile Zola accused the French government of illegally imprisoning Alfred Dreyfus for treason.
According to Zola, the only reason Alfred Dreyfus was charged and convicted was because he was a Jew. To avoid prison, Emile Zola flees to England and doesn't return until the following year after the current French government collapses.
Because of the efforts of Emile Zola and other French intellectuals, Drefus' trial becomes a public scandal. This creates so much pressure on the French government that they cannot maintain their coverup. Alfred Dreyfus will be exonerated and reinstated.
The polarization between Dreyfusards (supporters of Alfred Dreyfus) and anti-Dreyfusards (anti-Semitic opponents of Drefus) will affect French politics for decades. For example, Nazi collaborators and Vichy government ministers will be primary anti-Dreyfusards and their families.