Happy birthday to us (a trio of years)

Three candles by Marta SzczesniakIt took Doug LeBlanc and me a few weeks to figure out what we wanted to do with GetReligion. But, eventually, we had some basics in place and three years ago on Feb. 2 techno Doug click "publish" and we launched.

Three years later we are still here and lots of you are, too. That still kind of amazes me.

Anyway, here are some 2006 statistics about this operation.

Unique visitors: 353,090 Total Visits: 722,812 Pageviews: 1,213,251

I have no frame of reference on this sort of thing, so I am kind of curious about whether these are any good or not.

Some things have stayed the same, over the past three years. We still have trouble explaining to people that we are not a blog about religion news. We are a blog about how professional journalists attempt to cover religion news. That's a thin line and we try to stay on our side of it as much as possible.

It has also been hard, since day one, to help people understand that the comments boards are not a place for readers to tell each other what is wrong with their theological beliefs. People like to argue about religion and that's fine with us. We simply want to stay as close as we can to focusing on the efforts of the press -- good and bad -- to cover those arguments.

We are especially thankful to the many professionals -- including Godbeat specialists -- who quietly read this blog and have, in private emails, told us that they cannot leave comments for professional reasons.

Please be patient with us and keep those emails coming. Tell us stories that we need to read. And keep those emails coming telling us that you disagree with us, especially if we say something about your work or your newspaper that you consider unfair. I hope readers have noticed that we post these letters on the blog and respond to them.

Three candles by Marta SzczesniakSo what are we doing here? This might be a good opportunity for some of you to read that very first post that I wrote just before we launched. It starts like this:

Day after day, millions of Americans who frequent pews see ghosts when they pick up their newspapers or turn on television news.

They read stories that are important to their lives, yet they seem to catch fleeting glimpses of other characters or other plots between the lines. There seem to be other ideas or influences hiding there.

One minute they are there. The next they are gone. There are ghosts in there, hiding in the ink and the pixels. Something is missing in the basic facts or perhaps most of the key facts are there, yet some are twisted. Perhaps there are sins of omission, rather than commission.

A lot of these ghosts are, well, holy ghosts. They are facts and stories and faces linked to the power of religious faith. Now you see them. Now you don't. In fact, a whole lot of the time you don't get to see them. But that doesn't mean they aren't there.

So special thanks to the Rt. Rev. Douglas LeBlanc, the Divine Mrs. M.Z. Hemingway, young master Daniel Pulliam, Jeremy Lott, Esq., and the Rev. Dr. Arne H. Fjeldstad of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.

We'll keep on keeping on, because we sincerely love journalism and hope to see mainstream coverage of religion get better. In a few weeks we will roll out a trim, clean new site design and we hope to create a new feature or two.

So thank you for reading some of our 2,000-plus posts and contributing some of our 20,000-plus comments. Hang in there.

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