EthicsDaily.com has pivoted toward a new future—more intentionally providing faith content for TV.
"Beneath the Skin: Baptists and Racism," EthicsDaily.com's award-winning documentary, which featured Emmanuel McCall, will air on Soul of the South Network in July and August. (Photo: EthicsDaily.com)
Our decision was quickened by an opportunity with a new African-American TV network—Soul of the South Network (SSN)—to air three of our documentaries, beginning in late July.
Launched in May 2013, SSN currently has 16 stations carrying its programming.
Its largest affiliate, WKOB in New York City, reaches nearly 7.5 million homes.
The next largest affiliate, WOCK in Chicago, reaches 3.5 million homes. SSN programming reaches more than 20 million homes.
For more information about SSN and the airing of three revised documentaries, please read the accompanying news release.
In terms of background, the decision to become a content provider took a step forward at the Baptist Center for Ethics' May 2014 board meeting.
Even the tornado warning with the evacuation to the garage basement of the Baptist General Convention of Texas building, where we were meeting, couldn't derail our momentum.
Yet the SSN opportunity put us months, maybe a year, ahead of schedule.
So, what do we mean by TV?
Understand that TV is shorthand. It has traditionally meant broadcast TV. However, TV now is an umbrella term that encompasses more than just the airwaves.
It includes what one watches on one's TV screen whether the programming source is a broadcasting station, cable or even a Vimeo channel on your Apple TV or Roku, for example.
We are witnessing an explosion of broadcast and online streaming portals. Technology has made a lot of "pipes" available. Running far behind technology is quality faith content.
And that's where we think we have something positive to contribute—as a faith content provider.
EthicsDaily.com has a deep library of documentaries, and unused footage from these documentaries, that we plan to re-edit and in some cases update to make available to a variety of programs, even as we produce new documentaries and explore new ways to make video content available.
This is not our first venture into TV. We are expanding on an existing platform.
EthicsDaily.com's most recent documentary, "Through the Door," on prisons and faith, was broadcast in May in Atlanta.
Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters aired the film five times throughout the month. AIB reaches 1.3 million homes in the metro Atlanta area.
Three other EthicsDaily.com documentaries aired on AIB in 2012: "Different Books, Common Word: Baptists and Muslims," "Gospel Without Borders" and "Sacred Texts, Social Duty," on faith and taxes.
"Different Books, Common Word" aired on 130 ABC-TV stations in 2010, garnering the attention of Oscar-winner Denzel Washington, who twice publicly talked about the film's positive message.
Why become a more intentional content provider for TV?
TV allows us to reach an audience—and to frame a needed moral perspective—that we would be unable to reach by only providing documentaries for use in churches.
It affords us an opportunity to bypass denominational gatekeepers and some church leaders who might be reluctant to use our DVDs due to the polarization and fragmentation in many churches.
While we think our narrative, nonpartisan approach to documentaries is a constructive and engaging one, we appreciate the complexity of congregational polity and the need for church leaders to avoid anything that might cause disruption.
We aren't shifting gears away from providing moral resources for churches and congregational leaders. We are expanding the way we deliver resources.
We do hope that TV—broadcast or digital streaming—will increase the use of our documentaries in churches as tools for moral education and engagement. At least more folk will know about these documentaries—thanks to TV.
What does this mean for the website EthicsDaily.com?
Our website will remain our primary hub, platform, home base.
Over the past year, we have made a number of improvements to the site.
For example, if you click on a Bible verse cited in articles, a pop-up window appears with the text. Simple, yes. But helpful for the reader to have the text immediately available to review.
Another example is the scroll bar at the top of the front page, where we now can more quickly add and highlight moral commentary on breaking news.
Please read tomorrow a column by our managing editor, Zach Dawes, who delineates a number of site improvements.
More information will be forthcoming as we more deliberately seek to provide moral content for TV.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. Follow him on Twitter at RobertParham1 and friend him on Facebook.