Amanda Congdon: On the Set with Web Video’s Crossover Star

Amanda Congdon is one of the first crossover stars of the Web-video era. Now a correspondent for ABC News and in negotiations with HBO for a hybrid Web-TV comedy series, Congdon first made her name as the funny-but-sharp host of “Rocketboom,” the groundbreaking Internet news show. She spoke with Senior Writer Edward Cone about the impact of inexpensive, simple-to-use video technology on media and corporate communications.

CIO Insight: How has Web video changed the job description for reporters?

Congdon: I’m intimately involved in every aspect of the process, which I really like because it gives me so much more control and creative input into what I’m doing. I’m there from the inception of the idea all the way through the editing process. That’s a new way to work for people at ABC—it’s something they like, but it’s also been confusing, because it has not been protocol to be involved in so many layers of production.

Is this the new normal, for everyone to be tech savvy beyond the traditional job description?

I think it is. I hear some magazines are no longer hiring people who can’t be on camera, and who aren’t willing to do editing and be part of every single aspect of media production, whether it’s print or podcasting or videocasting. You have to get involved on every level. You can no longer say, “I don’t do that.”

What does “camera-ready” mean in a corporate context—do we need better-looking CEOs? How can people prepare for this new reality?

It’s not necessarily anything to do with looks. It’s the ability to be dynamic on camera, to be comfortable and communicate, to speak on camera like you are speaking to your sister or brother. As long as you can do that, you’re ready. I think these are skills that teachers will start teaching in school.

How does video on the Web differ from traditional TV video?

I think it works best to keep Internet video short. Two or three minutes is ideal. This could all change when we see television and computers really become integrated, but until then, it’s hard to sit at a computer and watch for longer than, say, six minutes.

Can we really have a world where everyone just gets on the Web, or do we still need editors and managers in a corporate environment?

For PR, you need savvy people with a few more skills than before. You need people who understand that audio quality matters. Good sound quality really differentiates someone’s video of their cat, video that’s kind of crappy, from what’s really good. My advice to a company that wants to do Internet video for external visibility or internal communications? Hire a video blogger—it’s easier than trying to figure out online culture. Most likely they’re not going to be too expensive. Then, a simple, easy way to get out your message is by finding the most important person in your organization who is willing to go on camera, and have him or her do a Web video. You can do it yourself.

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