January was a record-setting month for EthicsDaily.com readership with 841,516 pages read.

Three months ago, we reported that October was “a record-smashing month … outstripping anything we could have projected.”


Then, we had 729,925 pages read.


While a 111,591 increase in pages requested was surprising, it did validate what we thought we were seeing – consistent growth in web traffic. November’s number dropped slightly from October to 727,761 pages. December’s numbers increased to 805,311 pages.


From the vantage point of a full year, January 2011’s numbers came close to doubling January 2010’s numbers.


What explains our success?


President John F. Kennedy said in 1961, “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”


He made that comment as he took credit for the failure of the Bay of Pigs. He rightly understood the human tendency to blame others or to evade the responsibility for failure.


The human tendency is to scapegoat – to blame others or events when things go wrong. Rare is the leader who says that failure is his or her fault. Of course, evasion is another human tendency to escape responsibility. That is, misdirect attention away from a fiasco.


Conversely, the human tendency is to take liberally, albeit undeservedly, the credit for success.


However, in terms of explaining the significant increase in our readership, I think we have had a thousand fathers and mothers who can rightly claim credit for our accomplishment of building a website that has a growing readership.


We simply would not be where we are without some 70 contributors who in 2010 wrote columns, reviewed movies, posted sermon manuscripts, excerpted articles from their newly published books, let us turn blogs into columns and supplied news stories. These contributors still fuel a site that people of faith want to read.


Contributors know that their articles and sermons get read.


And the list of contributors continues to grow. While we don’t publish every piece and we sometimes ask for vigorous rewrites, we do welcome new article submissions.


Except for a few of our own press releases, we don’t post press releases. Neither do we post poetry.


When we started EthicsDaily.com’s parent organization – Baptist Center for Ethics – almost 20 years ago, I took to heart something Al Gore said: You build constituency with content.


We’ve built a readership with content – content supplied by a host of goodwill people of faith, people who advocate for social justice, prioritize religious liberty, advance human rights, want to protect the environment, know that healthy local congregations are the wheelhouse for the common good.


Clearly, a hunger exists for the kind of moral critique and advocacy from the biblically grounded and centrist perspective that EthicsDaily.com offers. Readers want help thinking about current events from a faith perspective. Readers also want to know how other people of faith see the world.


Without a doubt, website readers are evangelists for EthicsDaily.com. They, too, deserve credit for our success. We see good evidence that folk copy, paste and email our articles to their friends. We hear that articles get downloaded and duplicated for Sunday school classes. We hope article links are shared.


Since we don’t have an advertising budget to market EthicsDaily.com, we can safely assume that new folk are finding our site in no small measure because current readers are telling their family members, friends, students and congregants about the site.


Faithful financial supporters also deserve credit for our success. A number of pastors have made sure that we stayed in their church budgets in these tough economic times. A good number of church ministers make personal contributions. Church members also support EthicsDaily.com with their regular gifts – through the mail and online.


And thank goodness for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina. CBFNC created a giving channel that allows goodwill Baptist churches in the Tar Heel state to support BCE, replacing the funding that the fundamentalist -controlled Baptist State Convention of North Carolina tried to turn off.


The Baptist General Association of Virginia, ChurchNet (formerly Baptist General Convention of Missouri), the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia also provide financial support.


Our success comes from a thousand mothers and fathers. Imagine what could happen if we doubled the number of folk who deserve credit for EthicsDaily.com.


Will you introduce today your family members, congregation and work associates to EthicsDaily.com?


Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.

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