Posted March 22, 2007 3:10 pm by with 8 comments

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What is Amanda Congdon? She blogs on her own site, vlogs for ABC News (after leaving Rocketboom) and . . . stars in commercials?

After Amanda starred in a series of commercials for DuPont, some are calling into question her credibility as a journalist and/or a blogger.

Amanda defends herself:

ABC and HBO both approved the DuPont spots. And under the “blogger” title, which is what I am, hello? I am not subject to the “rules” traditional journalists have to follow.

Isn’t that what new media is all about? Breaking the rules? Setting our own? I see nothing wrong with doing commercials, which is what they, quite transparently, are. If DuPont had tried to pass them off as authentic, homegrown videos, yeah, then that would’ve been wrong (and, of course, I would never have agreed to the project if that was the plan). As Sarah Silverman would say, “I’d do it again”. In a heartbeat. Bring on the endorsements!

(I haven’t yet decided whether I agree with Amanda or not, but I’m glad that Andy only does SEO videos.)

ABC says that she’s an independent contractor, and thus not bound by their traditional journalistic principles. And since they approved the commercial, it’s effectively moot.

On the other hand, there are at least a few “rules” that bind both traditional journalists and bloggers. For example, whether you’re a journalist or a blogger, readers expect you to refrain from publishing something you know is patently false.

Yes, bloggers are usually expected to insert their opinion, especially in the “grey area” of blogging, but readers want to read the news and opinions of someone they can trust.

What makes a blogger credible? Obviously, we wouldn’t hold a blogger to the same standard as a traditional journalist, but where would you draw the line?

  • Next up, a video ad for PayPerPost – just to really confuse us.

    For the longest time, I’ve been against labeling bloggers. I don’t want to be confined to any set rules or expectations. Judge me by my integrity, ethics and reporting – don’t try and hold me to any structured set of guidelines that you (“you”, being anyone, not Jordan) “think” bloggers should be held to.

    Now excuse me, I’m off to do a TV ad for Pepto Bismol…”heartburn, gas, indigestion….”

  • Jordan McCollum

    Oh dear.

    I’m not trying to generate a list of rules for bloggers, and my opinion of Amanda’s credibility has not been impacted by this. (Note: I don’t read her or watch her, so I never “invested” emotionally/trustwise in her.) While I frowned at first, I’m not sure she was wrong, esp. with permission from ABC.

    I’m just wondering what criteria people tend to use in judging a blog/blogger for its/his/her credibility. How do you come to trust someone you’ve never actually met? What would it take for a blogger you trust to violate that trust and lose credibility?

    Man, I should’ve kept typing on the post. I thought I’d run out of things to say; I was wrong.

  • Not all, you’ve opened up a great debate…heck, you have me commenting on my own blog. 😉

  • What is it that makes a blogger a journalist? It’s very rare that I’d consider a blogger to be up to the standards of ethics and professionalism of a credible journalist.

    I’m not sure Amanda Congdon has or would ever fit that bill. Her early resume reads like the opposite of that of a professional journalist (ad agency… then theater… then screen acting… then vlogger).

    It’s standards like this – calling her a journalist in the first place – that cause the line to be blurred. It’s not gray – she’s not a journalist.

  • Note: I’m pointing my finger at CNet and HuffingtonPost for their apparent confusion… not the Marketing Pilgrim(s).

  • Steve Elbows

    I agree ExposureTim, the way I see it there are a lot of bloggers and vloggers who are some other label as well. So there are comedian vloggers, reporter vloggers, and many otehr varieties.

    Amanda is not a clearcut case because to me she was an actress, and I think she was in a TV advert and Music video before she got the Rocketboom gig. But the stuff she did on rocketboom made her more like a reporter, news anchor as well as being an entertainers, and the ABC stuff continues that trend. Meanwhile she has a genuine presence on the net, in terms of answering comments on her blog etc, so she isnt just pretending to do the web thing.

    Elswhere I have said that this DuPont stuff is bad for her credibility, based on the fact she has sometimes talked in videos about the moral dimensions of others actions, such as Chuck being paid to vlog for John Edwards. And I think her initial dismissive response on her blog caused more alarm. It left me wondering whether she ever considered the idea that maybe DuPont arent the company most likely to be loved by the blogosphere, and their wide range of activities is a recipie for a conflict of interest minefield.

  • The obvious answer is “if they link to me” 😉

    For me actions speak louder than words.

    My accomplishment this week is to have “encouraged” Jason Calacanis to finally include some disclosure about ThisNext on his blog, though not in the content.

    He claims it is not a competitor of PayPerPost, but you can review products with it, place it on your blog, and earn money from Amazon and Commission Junction.

    The most credible bloggers are those that link to differing opinions to their own without adding bias to the link or post title before hand. I am sometimes seething or ranting a little too much to achieve that, but at least I try to practice what I preach.

  • Jordan McCollum

    Came across this today from Rocks in my Dryer:
    My personal guidelines are…

    I won’t go anonymous. If I’m afraid to sign my name to it, I shouldn’t say it. (And, sorry, but I have to slip this in because it is the bain of every blogger’s existence…anonymous comments are not only rude, they’re seldom actually anonymous. The blog owner can still see your IP address, so if you’ve ever commented before they know exactly who you are.)
    When in doubt, I err on the side of giving people the benefit of the doubt.
    I only make a criticism when I feel like I have a good handle on the facts–all of them.
    Even criticism can be spoken kindly and without getting personal.

    Sounds very well balanced, but I don’t think they’ll work for everyone.