I have a new hero; she’s nine

When she’s of the appropriate age and comprehension, I’m going to tell my daughter about Hilde Kate Lysiak.

Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard about her. Yet. In 15 years you should probably feel bad. Or disconnected. Something. Point is, she’ll be a household name and you’ll be behind if you aren’t familiar with it, if it doesn’t bring to mind a face and ferocity.

I just heard about her this morning. A Washington Post story that ran today tipped me off about this single-digit dynamo, this Lois Lane who can’t drink, vote, drive, or even work legally yet.

According to Post crime reporter Tom Jackman, Hilde is 9 years old. She lives in Selinsgrove, Pa., a 5,000-person town that’s about a 45-minute drive north from the state capitol.

She also might be gunning for Jackman’s job. She’s already getting scoops. Like real honest-to-God scoops on real honest-to-God news.

From the piece:

“Lysiak got the tip early Saturday afternoon that there was heavy police activity on Ninth Street. She hustled over with her pen and camera, as any good reporter would, and soon she posted something short online, beating all her competitors. Then, working the neighbors and the cops, she nailed down her scoop with a full-length story and this headline:


The online story not only beat the local daily paper, but she also included a short video from the crime scene, assuring viewers that ‘I’m working hard on this investigation.'”

Hilde isn’t a lucky one-hit wonder. The 9-year-old has covered crime, government, and features. They range from murder to possibly rabid skunks getting shot in alleys, to the goings-on at mundane local government meetings. The pieces get published at orangestreetnews.com, and in a print version. She also has a Facebook page where she posts her stories.

Hilde caught this bug from her father, a former reporter, who helps. Her older sister also contributes an advice column. But don’t be misunderstand, the rest of the words are all her.

“I’m the only one who writes the Orange Street News,” she says in the Post piece.

The comments on her posts are mostly positive, but trolls are like gravity: ever-present, always trying to bring you down. Hilde’s story has proven they sometimes will take shots at 9-year-olds doing cool things.

From the murder story post:

“Hilde, I think this is appalling that u would do a story like this when all the facts are not in yet. Have some respect for all parties involved please.”

“I believe they call this type of reporting sensationalism.”

The vast majority of Hilde’s readers have stepped to her defense, given her kudos, encouragement, etc. Not that she needed it. In a video response to her “critics,” Hilde reads some of the criticism out loud, then gives a general response. You can also watch the YouTube file right here.

Here’s the knock out punch.

“If you want me to stop covering news, then you get off your computers and do something about the news. There, is that cute enough for you?”

Apply ice to burn. This kid buys her sass and wit at Costco in bulk, apparently.

I hope Hilde keeps it up. Doing something you love that is also constructive and betters a community of any size is a hard combination to nail down. Continuing to love it in the face of haters with WiFi – especially when you’re NINE – is even harder.

So props to you, Hilde. Keep giving ’em hell and never apologize.

(Unless you get something wrong in a story. Then you should do a correction.)

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