The Fourth Branch

Delayed News

The long-awaited meeting of U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Helsinki Summit on Monday, July 16, was delayed by the late arrival of Putin’s plane. And, the Twitterverse had to wait even longer for D.C. journalists’ social media reports.

The two presidents gave opening remarks around 7:15 a.m. ET – nearly an hour after the scheduled 6:20 a.m. ET start. But journalists did not tweet much about the summit until after the presidents’ private lunch meeting (at around 9:30 a.m. ET). The reporters’ tweeting then escalated dramatically during and following the press conference (at around 11:10 a.m. ET).

Journalists’ tweet pattern on Monday was noticeably different than the rest of the week. As you can see in the graph, from Tuesday through Sunday, their tweets were spread throughout the day, with peaks around 9:00 a.m. ET and 2:00 p.m. ET.

The Fourth Branch

Less is more

When it comes to tweeting by D.C. journalists and pundits, sometimes less is more.

Given the busy news week, it’s no surprise the Fourth Branch was prolific on Twitter this past week. The 10 journalists with the most tweets this week ranged from @blakehounshell, with 198 tweets, to@JakeSherman, with 61 tweets.  But none of those reporters or their tweets made the list of the Fourth Branch’s most-retweeted tweets.

That top honor goes to PBS NewsHour Washington Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, whose tweet about President Trump making fun of the #MeToo movement garnered more than 8,000 retweets. A common theme among most of the Fourth Branch’s most-retweeted tweets? Trump.

The Fourth Branch

Tweet Less, Get More Engagement?

Journalists’ Twitter activity understandably dropped off during the weekend. But that’s exactly when engagement with their tweets took off. Sunday marked the highest rate of retweets among the group, with an average of 126 retweets per post.

One reason for this uptick in engagement? A Sunday tweet from New York Times Washington Correspondent Michael Shear on the Justin Trudeau news conference garnered more than 16,000 retweets alone. In fact, three of the top five most-retweeted tweets from journalists were posted on Saturday or Sunday.

The Fourth Branch

Members Only

Even with the “Retweets are not endorsements” disclaimer, it’s interesting to see which accounts D.C. journalists and pundits are sharing with their followers.

Spoiler alert: They tend to “keep it in the 4th Branch family.” The 10 most-retweeted accounts by journalists are … well other journalists.

Seven of the 10 most-retweeted accounts are POLITICO and reporters at POLITICO—with most of the retweets coming from their colleagues at POLITCO. The other three reporters getting the most retweet love hail from:

  • The Washington Post;
  • The New York Times; and
  • MSNBC.