Take Back the News was founded
by Emily Brandt in 2001. It
began as a print project in
an independent Boston-based
newspaper in response to local
misrepresentation of a highly
publicized sexual assault.
The goal was to provide victims
of sexual assault a chance
to tell the public what happened
in their own words.
The success of the first print
project prompted the development
so that the project could
expand to communities around
the country. Again, this website provided a forum for sexual assault survivors to tell their stories in a public forum in their own words. Several communities
and campuses have sponsored
and continue to sponsor local
Take Back the News Print Projects,
which replicate the format
of the original print project.
Take Back the News became
an official non-profit organization
in the summer of 2005. During
that same summer, Emily’s
three sisters, Maria Brandt,
Laura Blasberg, and Julia
Brandt, became Take Back the News' first official Board of Directors, followed in July 2006 by the addition of Julia Wey. In January of 2008, Take Back the News revised its organizational structure so that Emily Brandt served as the Executive Director; Maria Brandt and Julia Brandt served as Project Leaders; and an array of women and men served as a functioning Advisory Board.
Beginning in 2006, Take Back The News partnered with the Natural Helpers, a peer support group at Schreiber High School in Port Washington, New York, and the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, to bring an annual workshop about relationship violence and sexual assault to the senior class. Through this program, now called "Break The Silence About Relationship Violence", a group of senior Natural Helpers (led by the school's social worker, Michele Weiden) are trained by an educator from the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, by Ms. Weiden, and by Julia Brandt from Take Back The News. The students learn about gender stereotypes, healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, dating violence, rape and sexual assault, alcohol and date rape drugs, and consent laws, among other things. The students then lead small group workshops and teach their peers about what they have learned. The program has been tremendously successful at educating high school students about these issues and challenging (and often changing) their preconceived notions about sexual assault. In 2008, the program earned an award from the Town of North Hempstead's Committee Against Family Violence for its efforts to raise awareness about sexual assault and abusive relationships.
In April 2007, Take Back the News partnered with the Rochester Rape Crisis Services, the American Association of Women in Community Colleges, and Monroe Community College's Student Services Department to launch its first and only College Writing Project at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York. Run by Professors Maria Brandt and Elizabeth Johnston, this project was designed to provide space for survivors to construct and share their stories first in a workshop forum, then for a campus-wide audience, and eventually for the general public. In addition to yielding emotional and academic growth beyond our expectations for individual participants, this project also helped catalyze a month-long campus-wide campaign to raise awareness of issues surrounding sexual and domestic violence in the Rochester community.
In 2009, the Executive Board decided to disband the organization but keep the resources we developed and collected available to the public through takebackthenews.org. The board members of Take Back the News will continue anti-rape activist work in their own communities. Today, there are over 120 stories
published on the website,
as well as information on starting your own Community Print
Project and responding to your local editors.
Media Award for Excellence in Media Advocacy about Sexual Violence, The New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, May 2006.
Website of the Month, Grrl Activistas, March 2002.
"Take Back The News: Emily Brandt's Media Revolution," by Jennifer Chen, Girlistic Magazine, page 21, Spring 2007.
"Happening," Lilith: Independent, Jewish & Frankly Feminist, Summer 2006.
"Breaking the Silence," by Bernard Stein, The Riverdale Press, May 2, 2002.