Honor fallen Eagle by ignoring rumors

William Price

Thursday last week at approximately 4 p.m. Georgia Southern University student Michael Gatto, of Forsyth County, Georgia, was confirmed deceased by the Bulloch County Coroner’s Office.

If you’ve been on the Internet in the last five days there’s no doubt you’ve read some close variation of the sentence above. Every social media site, news outlet and rumor-ridden app under the sun has been abuzz about this tragedy.

I’ve been receiving emails, text messages and phone calls asking questions akin to these:

“Why did you take so long to confirm Michael’s passing?”

“What’s going to happen to Rudy’s?”

“Is the guy who did it being charged with X, Y and Z?”

I’d like to answer all of these questions for the curious folk in one fell swoop: We’re not going to publish rumors, hearsay, speculation or baseless accusations. We will publish official information from official sources, not what someone is shouting about on Yik Yak.

Anonymous strangers on the Internet do not hand down sentences or have the power to pronounce someone guilty or not guilty. Judges and juries have that power.

As much as people seem to think trials happen in living rooms, web forums and on television, they do not. Trials happen in courtrooms, and we, as a campus, should suspend judgment of anything in this case until more official information is released.

If we do this as a campus we can, hopefully, dispel as much potentially harmful gossip as possible and not disrespect the life of a fallen classmate and friend.



Price is a junior multimedia journalism major from Atlanta, Ga. He currently works as The George-Anne Editor-in-Chief.