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What DC journos are Twitter quitters (or absent or otherwise weak)?

April 8, 2011 - 09:30 AM
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Today we recognize Washington journalists who just don't get Twitter. And never really tried.

Voters earlier selected Washington's best journalists using Twitter to cover local news (Scott Brodbeck, @ARLnowDOTcom), local politics (Freeman Klopott, @FKlopott), entertainment (Katy Adams, @katyadams) and sports (Ben Goessling, @masnBen).

Today, we'll make the call: Of many journalists who are absent on Twitter, we'll recognize Mark Plotkin, WTOP political analyst, for being AWOL and Jacqueline Trescott, Washington Post arts writer, as a Twitter quitter. And we'll give special recognition to former Post icons Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon.

And we dish out some recognition as the best non-journalist Twitter news feed in town to @dcfireems.


The contenders for AWOL #DCjournotweeps are plentiful. Many big journalism names, from news anchors to Pulitzer Prize winners, have resisted using Twitter.

A handful of Twitter accounts, mostly with generic avatars and few or no tweets, use the name Bob Woodward or Robert Woodward. None of them identifies the user as the Post's legendary investigative reporter and author. Two Twitter feeds (one with the one-word bio "EDITOR") use the name of Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli. Neither of them has tweeted or uploaded an avatar.

Most Pulitzer winners at the Post are difficult or impossible to find on Twitter. There are exceptions: Pulitzer-winning columnist Eugene Robinson tweets occasionally as @Eugene_Robinson. Two-time Pulitzer-winning feature writer Gene Weingarten objected to TBD's not creating a humor category, which he well might have won (he'd certainly win for most disgusting avatar).

Sports? Local news? Entertainment? Does no one appreciate, like ... funny? #dcjournotweeps http://tbd.ly/hZAM7Vless than a minute ago via web   Favorite | Retweet | Reply

Tempting though it was to choose a TV anchor or WaPo icon for the AWOL winner, Plotkin wins because we was called out by one of his own WTOP colleagues when we sought nominations:

I vote for my colleague Mark Plotkin in the AWOL category -- no Twitter, no email, no cellphone #dcjournotweeps http://tbd.ly/hZAM7Vless than a minute ago via TweetDeck   Favorite | Retweet | Reply

In a phone call (from a landline, obviously), Plotkin confirmed that he doesn't use Twitter or a cellphone for "profound philosophical reasons." He's "being compelled to use email," but only sparingly and grudgingly.

He described email as "a terrible, destructive force. It forces people not to talk to each other. ... If you really care about something, write me a letter."

Plotkin dislikes the presumption that everyone uses, or should use, email. "You’re looked at as some sort of pariah or kook case if you don’t do it."

As for the cellphone, he dismissed it as "burdensome and expensive." People can reach him easily at his desk, he said, and he readily gives out his direct number. "I check my voice mail very, very frequently," said Plotkin, who did call TBD back shortly after receiving a voice message.

Twitter, Plotkin said, is "like junk food." He acknowledged that its immediacy may have some value, but noted, "there's no editing, there's no accuracy check."

Twitter has a profile using Plotkin's name (no tweets and a bio saying "I love DC politics"), but he says he did not create it. "I'm not going to spend my life looking at a screen."

For a Twitter quitter, it's hard to top @Jtrescott. Here was her first tweet last Aug. 5:

where are the arts tweets?less than a minute ago via web

In her next tweet, 15 days later, she replied to a food-truck tweet, but didn't have much to say:

And that was it. Two tweets last August and she disappeared without so much as uploading an avatar.

"I signed onto Twitter to receive news from a variety of arts and news organizations. That's my best use of Twitter right now," Trescott said in an email to TBD. She is following 77 accounts.

Two Post sports-writing giants who have moved into broadcasting, Kornheiser and Wilbon, deserve special mention, not falling quite into the AWOL or quitter categories.

Wilbon apparently created -- or had someone create -- a Twitter profile, @MichaelWilbon, as a placeholder. It has 13,532 followers and is on 373 Twitter lists. But Wilbon still hasn't tweeted. Or updated his bio to say that he left the Post to work full-time at ESPN.

Kornheiser also has a placeholder Twitter feed, @TonyKornheiser, with no tweets and no bio. The avatar is a dog. It has 105 followers. But still, Kornheiser has a Twitter presence, @MrTonySays, where two fans tweet quotes from Kornheiser's radio and TV shows because "Mr. Tony doesn't tweet."

While Wilbon doesn't have fans transcribing his nuggets for Twitter, he does have impersonators, @FakeMikeWilbon (inactive since January) and @FakeWilbon, launched in February.

In the non-journalist Twitter news feed category, @dcfireems, the news feed of the District's Fire and EMS Department. It has 5,832 followers (but follows no one) and has sent out 8,846 tweets. It's a just-the-facts stream that's like a scanner in your Twitter stream:

update - I 295 - trapped patient has been extricated & being evaluated by EMS - total 4 inj, incl child - traffic blocked in both directionsless than a minute ago via web   Favorite | Retweet | Reply

A couple of house fires, a few haz mats, several multi-vehicle wrecks w/ multiple injuries, hundreds of EMS transports - all in a days workless than a minute ago via web   Favorite | Retweet | Reply


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