Reaction to the death at Jack’s Bar in Morehead City and the arrest of Stephen Gomola – Media Ethics and Citizen Conjecture 1

Stephen Gomola and Jack's BarAs the Involuntary Manslaughter arrest of Stephen Gomola in the July 4th death at Jack’s bar in Morehead City, NC was released it seems that it could be time for us, as fellow human beings, to step back and take a serious look at how we handle information and react to it. On the hem of the Zimmerman verdict, which was tried in the court of the media and public opinion it seems like locally, similar reactions are happening and being fueled by media. It isn’t the first time media agencies have had to recant stories. Does anyone remember the early reports on the Boston Bomber being arrested which proved to be disinformation? Authorities strongly advised media sources to exercise caution before releasing information that could have disastrous consequences.

Stephen Gomola is arrest for Involuntary Manslaughter


The race for being the first at reporting news may be so gruelingly competitive that lost are the boundaries that regulate them.

Back to the local tragedy at Jack’s Bar in Morehead City. Truth be told, only a small number of people were actually outside at Jack’s Bar that night. False information has been released, resulting in rapid-fire conjecture about Stephen Gomola. WCTI 12, on their website originally released a report that stated the man who drowned was hit with a bottle. While they included this was uncorroborated information, readers must ask themselves what constructive purpose is served when information like that is released. Reading comments from people on The Carteret County News-Times website and Facebook pages one can see that information, which was later proved to be false information, was stated as fact from people and represented in a way that would suggest some commenters were present at Jack’s Bar during the incident, when, in fact, they weren’t.

Another false rumor perpetuated in the media was that the deceased was the person who was attacked for speaking against the alleged littering in the water outside of Jack’s Bar. We now know from an interview with Scott Thomas, the opposite is actually true.  That misinformation caused a litany of opinions written against the accused, Stephen Gomola, before the truth was released.

Social media and modern technology makes it extremely easy to spout off opinions and even provides an invisible veil for people who want to express themselves without being recognized.

This article isn’t meant to be a forum for people to discuss their opinions on the guilt or innocence of local, Stephen Gomola. We need to be reminded that there are facts we don’t know. People who are directly involved are likely not allowed to speak to news sources.  People who are talking freely about the incident can only be people who are speaking from hearsay, which is so unreliable that it isn’t considered in court, or worse, their imaginations. A more worthwhile discussion is whether or not it is ethical for media sources to release information knowing that it has not been corroborated.  Also what constructive purpose is served by supposing a person’s guilt or innocence on social media and media websites citing hearsay without being privy to any ACTUAL evidence.

What Are Your Insights On The Involuntary Manslaughter Arrest And Media Coverage Of Stephen Gomola?

What are your reactions to Stephen Gomola being arrested for Involuntary Manslaughter? Do you think it is ethical for the news media to release information that hasn’t been corroborated? What do you think could be some positive or negative effects of releasing uncorroborated information? Why do you think people are so free to offer their opinions on such cases? What do you think are the positive or negative effects of such discussions and impacts on this case?

How is this affecting tourism to the local area, or the patrons and owners of Jack’s Bar?

Do you think news reports affect court decisions in the Stephen Gomola involuntary manslaughter trial?? Do you think it is possible to be unbiased after being exposed to misinformation as reported by the media? Could you overlook exposure to information from media sources if you were chosen as a juror after the fact? What do you think the affects of the media has on the families of all parties involved?

Are there boundaries you think news agencies should adhere to? What do you think causes the release of disinformation? Why do you think people are so interested in forming an opinion about cases before they play out in court? Why do you think people are so quick to make judgements? Do you think it is fair to jurors since they make decisions based on the law, yet are scrutinized by people who aren’t getting the full picture?

Update: 6/5/2015: Today a jury ended in mistrial during the trial of Stephen Gomola. The just indicated that they were deadlocked 6-6 forcing a mistrial.

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One thought on “Reaction to the death at Jack’s Bar in Morehead City and the arrest of Stephen Gomola – Media Ethics and Citizen Conjecture

  • Jill McEntire

    I know nothing of Stephen Gomola and have certainly never been to Jack’s Bar, but I did read the initial media reports on this incident because I work close to where this happened. The author of this article is dead right, it has gotten to where I do not even trust the media anymore because they seem to have their own political slants to issues and seem to want to sensationalize things in order to create controversy so that people have a reason to tune into their programming and advertising.

    Let’s hope that they need not taint a potential jury pool.