’s readership numbers are in, and wow, did we ever do great.
January tends to be one of our busiest months every year, generally. But last month was not just busy, it was the 6th busiest month ever, going back as far as our records reach:
Astute observers will note that the top 5 months were all between and . And, in fact, the previous #6 month – which is now #7 – is . That was the period just before we hit the skids in mid-2015, which almost led to CA being shut down in , which we’re still recovering from.
As for , the reason for that month’s huge numbers was because there were a couple of major stories that happened all at the same time:
The month started out with considerable interest in the case of the 13 male fourth-year students of Dalhousie’s dental school who had been participating in a Facebook group that was full of nasty, misogynistic posts fantasizing about sexual violence on their (specifically named) female classmates. This was long before #MeToo, and it’s fascinating to look back on how the case was viewed and handled.
Then came the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Canadian Atheist became a subject of international interest, because our perspectives on the massacre – as atheists – were widely sought out. We were also among the earliest people to comment on the event… while it was still underway… and some of our commentary on the events that followed went viral.
Then we were hacked. Again. This time, though, we were able to recover from the damage with no data loss.
Just two days after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Saudi Arabia inflicted the first 50 lashes on Raif Badawi. The Harper government dragged their feet responding, so we were on their case.
And then Makayla Sault died. Sault was an 11 year-old indigenous child with acute lymphoblastic leukemia whose parents were Christian faith-healer nuts. It – along with a similar case with another indigenous child known only as J.J. that happened at about the same time – was a complicated and messy case about indigenous rights that was widely misreported and misunderstood as being about Christian faith-healing, alt-med mumbo-jumbo. Since the Harper era ended, we’ve started to have better conversations about how indigenous rights and Canadian law interact, but at the time it was a mess.
Finally, that month saw the birth of the coalition to end Canada’s blasphemy law … which we eventually accomplished at the end of last year, becoming the story of the year. At the time, most Canadians didn’t even know we had a blasphemy law, so our articles about it were widely read.
So, as you can see, was an insane month.
Incidentally, is the 8th busiest month ever. Three of the top ten busiest months were January: 2015, 2016, and 2019. The only other month that appears twice in the top ten is October: 2014 at #7 and 2017 at #10.
What really impresses me is that we did so well without any major catastrophes as in . These were some of the biggest stories last month:
The flight of Rahaf Mohammed from Saudi Arabia, via Kuwait and Thailand, and her subsequent resettlement in Canada. That was a dramatic story, but one with a happy ending.
Alberta’s Education Minister cracking down on Catholic schools that force anti-LGBTQ contracts on teachers. This story was very good news. It’s awesome to see Eggen actually standing up to the Catholic boards.
The convictions – plural! – of Montréal priest Brian Boucher for sexually assaulting children had a horrific backstory; not just the Church, but also the parents apparently knew abuse was going on. But the actual story last month was good news, as Boucher was convicted in every trial.
There was also a story that burned very brightly very briefly where the Ottawa Catholic School Board banned then quickly unbanned the graphic novel Drama because there was a subplot involving LGBTQ characters. This was annoying, but it had a happy ending.
Those were the stories that most engaged Canadian Atheist readers , and they’re all positive. That’s remarkable.
Let’s be clear: not every story was a happy story. There were a few about Doug Ford cracking down on student freedom and autonomy, there was that shitty story about the “Wolves of Odin” intimidating a mosque, and a few other things. But those stories had far less engagement.
So I’m going to go on record as saying that was an awesome month. We have some serious challenges ahead – this is an election year, and the far right is already mobilized and active. But I think we’re off to a good start. I think we can do this, people. I think we can make a great year of 2019.