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The best #DCjournotweep covering local news: @ARLnowDOTcom

April 4, 2011 - 10:59 AM
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The steady news reported on @ARLnowDOTcom earned Scott Brodbeck recognition as the best journalist using Twitter to cover local news.

In voting that started last week on TBD, Brodbeck won 23 percent of the votes from TBD readers, barely edging @NealAugenstein of WTOP, who got 21 percent. Sarah Krouse of the Washington Business Journal, @wbjsarah, was third with 15 percent. No one else topped 10 percent of the 764 votes cast.

Winners in other #DCjournotweeps categories will be announced later in the week.

Brodbeck's approach to Twitter is simple: Lots of news. "I link to my own articles, respond to feedback, and provide breaking news and traffic updates that don't make it on the main web site," he said in an email to TBD. "Sometimes I'll also relay amusing tidbits that aren't substantial enough for an article but are funny enough that I have to tell someone about."

Monday's tweets covered a range of news: business, traffic, music and even romance:

Journalist proposes to girlfriend at Shirlington library http://bit.ly/dV1LQGless than a minute ago via TweetDeck   Favorite | Retweet | Reply

Brodbeck's victory over Augenstein was a defeat for video campaigning. Brodbeck did note the #DCjournotweeps voting on his blog and on Twitter:

Is ARLnow.com among "the best journalists on Twitter?" http://bit.ly/idsrSdless than a minute ago via TweetDeck   Favorite | Retweet | Reply

He humbly described the competition as tough and esteemed, lowballing his own pitch for votes: "let's at least not finish last."

Augenstein campaigned more aggressively for votes, tweeting about the voting several times and producing a video pitch for votes.

The two leaders engaged in a good-natured Twitter exchange during the vote:

Now I see why @arlnowdotcom is kicking my --- in @tbd #dcjournotweeps poll http://bit.ly/f2ehBj tbd.ly/eP7eO1less than a minute ago via TweetDeck   Favorite | Retweet | Reply

@NealAugenstein Any time I can combine a story about restaurants, politics, famous people, and the Tea Party, I know I have a winner.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck   Favorite | Retweet | Reply

If the poll was a setback for video campaigning, it was a stern rebuke for endorsements. Washington City Paper's Benjamin Freed, @brfreed, confessed to being a "smartass" nominee and blogged a list of "context-free endorsements." He didn't even poll enough votes to round up to 1 percent.

Freed wasn't the only blogger commenting on #DCjournotweeps. "DC Porcupine" called it "history's worst hashtag," "the world's most meaningless poll" and an obvious "grab for unique visitors" (guilty; is that a bad thing?).

Brodbeck, the first member of the TBD Community Network, answered some email questions about his Twitter approach:

TBD: How do you find it most useful?

Brodbeck: Twitter allows me to reach people instantly. I do a lot of breaking news-type coverage and Twitter is a great well to draw attention to a breaking story. It also allows me to have conversations with readers, which is always pretty cool. And it's an excellent source for news tips.

TBD: What’s the best tip, if any, you’ve received through Twitter?

Brodbeck: I've received some good tips about new restaurants. Also, whenever somebody tells me they see a half dozen police cars all responding to the same area, it usually ends up being interesting.

TBD: Do you have a favorite tweet (yours or someone else’s)?

Brodbeck: There's a certain exhilaration whenever I start a tweet with "BREAKING NEWS."

TBD: Who’s a local journalist you enjoy following?

Washington Business Journal’s Missy Frederick is always interesting, as are her WBJ colleague Sarah Krouse and WTOP’s Neal Augenstein and Adam Tuss. But right now I'm intently following NBC4 Assignment Editor Charlie Bragale (@charlienbc) -- if he ever starts doing more personal Tweeting the local news scene is going to get a bit more colorful.

TBD: Anything else you’d like to add?

Brodbeck: I once wrote an article where I declared that Twitter's "novelty is running out." I really didn't like it in the beginning, when there was so much hype. Now that the hype has died down and I use Twitter on a daily basis, I've really become a convert.

Augenstein also told TBD about his approach to using Twitter:

Twitter is redefining my job description. In years past I had a total of 40 seconds an hour to communicate with the radio audience. That left out so much of the story. Since wtop.com came online in 1997, we had a "we are they, they are us" mandate, so we were doing multi-platform stuff before the phrase was coined.

But Twitter is helping break down the walls. The audience has multiplied. I can engage throughout the day or night with them in ways I don't have time (or inclination) to in the broadcast hour.

I look at tweeps as visitors to the newsroom. I happen to think the news gathering process is fascinating. And I'd like to think followers share the excitement in breaking news. In addition to the pride I feel in breaking a story on Twitter, I also like knowing that my tweeps will feel pride in knowing something before their friends.

As you (and @dcporcupine) know, since February of last year I've used my iPhone as my field recorder. In conjunction with the phone Twitter helps me do my job faster. Rather than emailing a photo to the web desk, realizing they have a million other things to do, I can publish it immediately. If I grab some video, tweeting it is so much faster than uploading it to YouTube and sharing the link with the (still overworked) desk.


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