On Wickersham, Wolff and media literacy

First thing this morning, as I tried to warm up in sub-zero weather, I went to Twitter and found the link I knew would be there — Seth Wickersham's look at the growing rifts within the New England Patriots

I marveled at the piece, drank in the details of the growing discord between Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft. I clicked the share button and started to type out praise for Seth Wickersham's reporting.

Then I paused for a moment.

Was this really a great piece of journalism?

Or did I just think it was because I'm a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan and love any notion of things going wrong for a Patriot. Did I think it was good journalism because I liked and agreed with what was said?

You see where I'm headed with this. It's the same questions I've been asking myself all week about Michael Wolff's new book about the Trump White House.

There's an important difference to note - Wolff has been criticized in the past for playing loose with traditional jounalism ethics, while Wickersham's reporting has always been considered above reproach. Wickersham talked about his reporting on an episode of The Other 51 last summer. There is some reason to take Wolff's reporting with a grain of salt. There is no reason to doubt Wickersham's.

When we talk about media literacy, we often talk about it from the perspective of media organizations helping audience members understand how the news is made. But it's just as important for audience members to understand their own biases and their own beliefs. Would I have been as eager to share a Wickersham piece that delved into any dysfunction within the Bills' organization and call that great reporting? I like to think so, but is that true?

Media literacy, in many ways, begins with the audience.