Thank you to everyone who joined the Keynote Conversation with Amy Herdy and Chris Vanderveen!
On Thursday evening (April 22nd), we had the privilege of hearing from journalist and producer, Amy Herdy in a Keynote Conversation hosted by Chris Vanderveen, director of news at 9-News Denver. Amy shared her experiences and explained key areas in which Journalism must improve to become more supportive of survivors.
According to Amy, one particular area that warrants improvement is the language used when addressing sexual violence—language must be carefully examined. For instance, survivors are often referred to as “the accuser.” Another is the use of the term, “date rape.” Terms such as these can be harmful to a survivor as it opens the door for suspicion and downplays an extremely traumatic event. Closely tied to this is Amy’s urge for Journalists to accept testimony as evidence. Many have challenged the validity of a sexual assault in the past by asking for more “concrete” evidence. In doing so, Amy explains, we are only invalidating survivors.
Another area of improvement identified by Amy is the need to create a more comfortable and accepting environment for survivors on behalf of the newsroom. Journalists tend to be “story hungry” and fail to identify an assault as a painful event in someone’s life. “I realized that when I interviewed survivors of sexual assault, it was a special kind of trauma that affected their life in a long-term way,” Amy says. “I realized that I had the backbone to do these stories because it does require a certain amount of fortitude since these stories are so painful.” Many Journalists may not have the same type of grit that Amy describes herself to have. By investing more time into training, Amy believes that Journalists will be more trauma informed, and survivors will feel more comfortable sharing their stories.
In closing, Amy offers several valuable calls to action that everyone in the community can take; “your voice really does matter. Call it out when you see it.” In other words, if you hear an inappropriate remark, tone, joke, or comment made in the media about sexual violence, give them a call and tell them where they made a mistake. It’s important to hold one another accountable. Amy also emphasized the importance of supporting local organizations like The Blue Bench. She said, “I only support local organizations like this who are one-hundred percent devoted to the clients they serve… organizations like The Blue Bench can literally save someone’s life.”
We feel so fortunate that Amy Herdy was willing to join us on Thursday. We appreciate her commitment to ending sexual assault and using her platform as a Journalist to inform those around her.