Gawker celebrated the end of 2009 setting a new record for pageviews. But Nick Denton anointed monthly uniques as the new king and I'm happy to report we crossed a milestone this week with an audience topping 4 million readers.

According to Quantcast, over the last 30 days, some 4.2 million people have clicked through Gawker which is about 33% higher than the beginning of the year. The U.S. number, which is the one Nick is now basing our bonuses on, sits at 3.1 million, making Gawker the third largest site in the Gawker Media network behind the traditional traffic behemoths Gizmodo and Lifehacker.

Now, this isn't a record. There was a brief time last summer when with the help of a certain naked threesome video we posted got more than 3 million pageviews, a traffic spike that pushed our monthly uniques number to 4.7 million. We still love spikes and sex tapes — call me if you have anything — but I'm especially proud that the Gawker audience has been growing without one. Gawker's U.S. audience is currently bigger than national news sites like (and just a smidge smaller than all of, bigger than newspaper sites like the Chicago Tribune and Boston Globe, and even bigger on the web than TV titans like Oprah Winfrey, American Idol and Martha Stewart.

The strategy I've adopted at Gawker to meet Nick's goals of audience growth has been to emphasize big, original stories that go beyond the typical blog post. And so far that's been paying off. To be sure, we were helped by the great Gawker.TV coverage of the Late Night Wars as well as the regular coverage of TV by Richard and Brian, but the stories driving the numbers have often been the ones with exclusive reporting and fresh ideas. Stuff like, Ryan's story about how Steve Jobs flipped out when a Wall Street Editor tweeted from an iPad, Ravi's scoop about the John Edwards sex tape, John's analysis of what Bill O'Reilly left on the cutting room floor from his Jon Stewart interview, Maureen's excellent obituary for Casey Johnson, or the fascinating team effort that untangled the yarn of how a top Oracle executive found himself — and his mistress — plastered on billboards. Of course, as the audience grows, it only means more pressure to find the next big story. So onward.