Amanda Congdon vlogging for DuPont

blog Is producing video blogs for the chemical giant and ABCNews.com a conflict of interest?

Amanda Congdon calls herself a blogger, and after her arrival on the scene as the face of Rocketboom, it's easy to understand why she'd say that.

But when she left Rocketboom and subsequently began video blogging for ABCNews.com, she changed status, whether she believes it or not.

That's why there's a bit of a kerfuffle going on right now in light of revelations that even as she has been producing stories for ABCNews.com, she has also been performing in infomercials for DuPont, one of the largest companies in the world.

Asked about the apparent conflict of interest--staff journalists at most news organizations would likely be fired if such a thing was discovered--Congdon pointed me to a blog entry in which she not only didn't express any kind of regret for having done the DuPont work, but actually laughed about it.

"As I mentioned in my blog Sunday evening," her blog entry begins. "I made these little 'infotainmercials' for DuPont. I love how that ridiculous word spread like wildfire. That was my intention. A little experiment that WORKED."

Congdon went on to write that ABC had given her approval to do the DuPont spots--in which she touts products like the chemicals that protect firemen from raging heat--but that it didn't matter anyway because she's a blogger and "I am not subject to the 'rules' traditional journalists have to follow."

This would be fine and dandy to most people, I suspect. But by working for ABC News, even as a video blogger, I think she has become part of the world of journalism.

And so her next comment does not do her justice: "Isn't that what new media is all about? Breaking the rules? Setting our own? I see nothing wrong with doing commercials...As Sarah Silverman would say, 'I'd do it again.' In a heartbeat. Bring on the endorsements."

That attitude is more one of someone intent on being a performer, not a journalist. And while bloggers generally don't have to answer to anyone except themselves and, to some extent, their readers, Congdon is in a totally unique category: She is a blog-bred personality who has crossed over to the mainstream. If she was video blogging for ABC.com, that would be one thing. But her work appears on the news site, and that makes her part of the news team.

So, while she is a nice person, and seems to have good intentions, I think Congdon may well want to think about whether she wants a future in journalism. If not, then she's fine. But if she does, she may be burning bridges which she can't cross again.

 

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