The Baptist Center for Ethics has become what appears to be the first Christian organization to post its videos on YouTube, once again using cutting-edge technology to inform and empower churches and Christians.
YouTube is a popular video sharing service—to the tune of 100 million videos watched there daily. Videos range from network TV shows to amateur home videos to slick short films.
Google bought the year-old company for $1.65 billion in October, carving out yet another niche in the rapidly changing media landscape.
YouTube is popular for several reasons—engaging content and ease of use among them. Some of that content is illegally there on account of copyright protections, and YouTube and Google are currently maneuvering those choppy waters.
But YouTube remains perhaps the easiest portal for watching and uploading videos. So BCE, which is gathering more video content and needing a better system for delivering it, is getting into this vast video stream.
The YouTube strategy makes sense for several reasons: cost, networking and experimentation.
In terms of cost, uploading videos to YouTube is free. The process is also easy and the technology is sound.
YouTube’s service also allows for videos to be linked to similar videos. This is done through keywords that uploaders attach to their videos. So, if we upload a video and give it a keyword of “moral” or “discernment,” our video can be linked to others having those keywords. This kind of connectivity or networking, while not a perfect science, does give BCE’s content the potential for greater visibility.
Lastly, BCE simply wanted to experiment with a technology saturating the mainstream. Not only does YouTube serve more than 100 million videos each day, but BCE’s research indicated no religious organization was housing its video product at YouTube or any other popular video service.
The religious organizations we looked at are keeping their videos entirely in house, presumably because they can afford to do so. But they also tend to use the traditional, downloadable media players like RealPlayer or Windows Media or QuickTime.
BCE tried that approach over the last several years, but the cost of video hosting and the cumbersomeness of specific player downloads posed obstacles.
With YouTube’s capabilities firmly in place, the time seemed right for us to branch out.
Thus, our current strategy involves uploading videos to YouTube, but “embedding” them at EthicsDaily.com. This means when someone wants to watch one of our videos, they get to stay at EthicsDaily.com while our video—though hosted by YouTube—plays on one of our pages.
In some ways, YouTube allows us to have our cake and eat it, too. We get free video hosting with videos that essentially play on our site, but we also become part of the immense collection at YouTube, which links our content with similar videos.
YouTube isn’t a panacea for non-profits like ours with limited budgets. It has limitations and shortcomings (like content that not all of our users will care to see; hence our embedding strategy). Our media world also doesn’t have much gravity these days; everything eventually floats away, so we must stand at the ready.
But when BCE says it is committed to engaging the larger culture, it wants to be a good steward of resources entrusted to us, it is nimble and can adapt, we mean it.
If you’ve never watched a YouTube video, you can be initiated at EthicsDaily.com by seeing remarks from Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, given at BCE’s 15th anniversary luncheon in Atlanta in June.
You can listen to Larry McSwain, McAfee ethics professor, talk about Henlee Barnette, or BGCT Executive Director Charles Wade give tribute to T.B. Maston.
You can watch a video clip from our recently released DVD, Always … Therefore: The Church’s Challenge of Global Poverty. You can also get ready for more clips from our other upcoming DVD resources.
You’ve been reading us. Now you can watch us, too. Share us with a friend, and let us know what you think.
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.