Amanda Congdon: Her Media, Her Way

BlogHer Original Post

Perhaps you've seen the announcement about the current whereabouts of former Ms. Rocketboom, Amanda Congdon, who now seems to have launched into the media stratosphere: not only will she be a correspondent for all things newsy across ABC's TV and digitial properties, she's also got an HBO project in the works.

In her interview on Guy Kawasaki's blog she diffused the stigma that we "new media" folks have placed on working with "old media". Apparently, you CAN sign a deal and keep your soul:

I consider myself in a position of great responsibility because any Internet personality who is dabbling with big media is under a tremendous pressure right now to do the right thing—and not screw things up for everyone else.

If people looked at the details instead of skimming surface, they’d find something surprising. And that is this:

I have much more control working with old media than I would have had if I stayed at Rocketboom, which essentially became old media in new media’s shoes. Now I’m in the exact reverse situation. It’s truly ironic. I retain full creative control of my show. I’m totally doing my own thing and the network is comfortable with me just being me.

I congratulate Amanda on getting mainstream recognition for her work without diluting the content that got her there in the first place.

We--ahem--had word of the ABC deal when we spoke to Amanda face to face, the day we were interviewed for Amanda's current project, Amanda Across America. We learned that good deals take time to close, and by "good" I mean deals that maintain the artist's integrity. Amanda could have run to the first site that would take her (cough) Jason Calcanis (cough), but by waiting, and making us all wonder if our vlogging starlet was washed up, she actually provided an example for the rest of us to wait it out--money and attention are compliments, but they aren't the things that sustain us in the end.

Of course, time will tell just how much Amanda that Amanda gets to keep in her work. I've also seen deals fail because they began with the promise of allowing creative control, and then the reality of ratings/impressions hit, and the idealism crumbled. However, I believe that if there's a time to work with Old Media, now is the time, when it's looking to the Blogosphere for new approaches and, frankly, forced to have to take us for our unpolished, typo'ed values.

This is not a one-way relationship. Back in May, when BlogHer first launched its advertising network with 30 founding parenting blogs, there was as much discussion about meeting advertisers' need for quality as there was meeting bloggers' need for autonomy. No one wants to feel owned, but no one wants to feel like a chump for acknowledging others' autonomy either. The floodgates to blogs have been opening, but they will begin to close on bloggers that rely more on sizzle than on steak, that don't cite their sources or investigate their claims, that don't read through their copy at least once to determine whether their words make sense, that mistake obscenity for poignancy.

Amanda's leap may not end up being the proof we've all been seeking that citizen media is just as good, if not better, than traditional media; but the success of her programming isn't important to me. What's important--and I think what will set a precedent--is the way she leapt. Gracefully.

Jory Des Jardins also blogs at Pause.

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