A Look Back at EthicsDaily's History of Quality Faith Content


We posted our first video to YouTube in late 2006, shortly after Google bought the company, Vaughn writes. (Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

We recently announced that three of our documentaries will be broadcast this July and August by Soul of the South network. An editorial by EthicsDaily.com's executive editor, Robert Parham, accompanied the announcement.

"EthicsDaily.com has pivoted toward a new future--more intentionally providing faith content for TV," he wrote.

Parham noted that while the digital revolution has proliferated platforms and distribution channels, "quality faith content" to fill those pipes has been lacking.

As a result, we are stepping up our efforts to make available to these platforms our content.

Good things are happening already, as evidenced by the trio of documentaries--"Through the Door," "Gospel Without Borders" and "Beneath the Skin"--that will air on Soul of the South network, which reaches millions of homes.

Parham's editorial, titled "What's Next," obviously explored the future. But how did EthicsDaily.com even get to this point?

Taking stock is helpful--and it took me back to 2003, when I purchased an HD video camera and made my first documentary.

Soon thereafter, in 2005, EthicsDaily.com began making educational videos and documentaries for churches, starting with one on poverty.

Consider: In 2005, YouTube was created. Its slogan in the early days: "Broadcast yourself."

We didn't embrace the platform immediately as a venue for videos (focusing instead on manufacturing DVDs for placement in houses of faith).

Rather, we posted our first video to YouTube in late 2006, shortly after Google bought the company.

Almost 90 EthicsDaily.com videos sit there now. Some of the first videos we posted came from Baptist Center for Ethics' 15th anniversary luncheon.

We also began posting promotional clips from "Always ... Therefore," that first production on poverty that was distributed on DVD.

Some YouTube videos would get only a few hundred views. Others--featuring Will Campbell, Sister Helen Prejean, Rick Warren or Denzel Washington--would get several thousand apiece.

We stuck with that platform for years, even submitting a video in 2007 to the CNN/YouTube Republican debate--a media and political event that seems ho-hum now but game changing at the time.

Eventually our eye for online video drifted from YouTube to Vimeo--another video hosting platform that got less attention than YouTube but actually predated it.

(The word "Vimeo" is not only an anagram of the word "movie," but also a combination of "video" and "me." And the word "video" means, "I see" in Latin.)

We began putting videos and clips on Vimeo in 2011, having been making more issues-based documentaries the whole while.

The first clips we posted to Vimeo were from "Gospel Without Borders," our documentary on faith and immigration. We've now uploaded more than 120 clips to that platform alone.

And now, the videos there can be watched not only on desktops and laptops, not only on mobile phones, but also via AppleTV, for example.

So EthicsDaily.com content is watchable on your TV, even though it may not be coming through your antenna or cable/satellite provider.

But ... sometimes our content does reach you that way. For example, more than 130 ABC-TV stations broadcast our documentary, "Different Books, Common Word: Baptists and Muslims," in 2010.

Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters made several of our projects available on its channel in 2012 and again this year.

Now, Soul of the South, headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas, is putting together a documentary series of sorts that will feature our projects on racism, immigration and prisons.

What's the upshot of all this? EthicsDaily.com video content can reach you in a variety of ways: on a DVD, on your Apple TV, on your laptop or mobile phone, through the airwaves, on a cable channel.

There are more channels and platforms and distribution points than stars, it seems like. That matters because these platforms abhor going dark.

We want to light them up--with real stories about people of faith and goodwill.

It's worth noting that Soul of the South's president, Doug McHenry, said this in the press release announcing this summer's programming: "It's rare to have Christian inspired programming that so readily speaks to challenges which face all of us today, both Christian and non-Christians alike using the gospel to inspire and give us insight on how to approach seemingly intractable problems."

Did you catch it? Our content speaks to challenges facing us, and it does so while bringing faith into the conversation.

We've produced projects on, for example, poverty, racism, immigration, taxes, prisons.

Don't get me wrong: I love Grumpy Cat. But when it's time to get serious about problems and how faith can illuminate solutions, everyone deserves more than a toothless nibble from faith practitioners.

The digital revolution continues. EthicsDaily.com is working hard to take advantage of it.

Cliff Vaughn is media producer for EthicsDaily.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Cliff_Vaughn.

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Tags: Cliff Vaughn, Documentary, Soul of the South


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