This 9-Year-Old Reporter With A Book Deal Is Making Us All Feel Very Unaccomplished
If you are reading this, scrolling through your phone and deciding what to start binge watching on Netflix, you need to get your ass in gear. What are you doing with your life? Hilde Lysiak, a 9 year old with a book deal, knows what she’s doing, and she is my new role model. Hilde is from the middle of Pennsylvania and has her own newspaper. Her investigative reporting has led to a four-book deal, called Hilde Cracks the Case, based in her hometown. She’s awesome and I can’t wait to buy them for my nieces (and sneakily read them myself).
The Orange Street News is not just a paper run by a tiny woman (I think being the owner of your own media outlet warrants being called a woman, pre-pubescent or not), but one of the only tiny papers in her tiny ass town, Selinsgrove, according to the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR). Hilde trended this spring when she broke a story of a murder in the town and faced a lot of hate from commenters who thought she should be playing house in her backyard instead of taking notes and making videos. Most of the comments focused how this “little girl” had the guts to “think” she was a journalist. Because of course, a young girl with talent and drive should be taken down a notch, right? So wrong.
She told them to shut the heck up in a YouTube video where she responded to her haters. So, she’s not just entrepreneurial, she also has a lot of grit. When she started her paper, she was all about exposing graffiti and being a proper journalist: digging into what she thought was wrong and writing about it. Her father, Matt, used to work for The New York Daily News, so a good hunch runs in her blood. When the family lived in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Matt would take Hilde along with him to certain assignments, and she seems to have just picked reporting up.
Her father says watching Hilde has sort of inspired him, too. He told New York magazine that when she first started, he and Hilde’s mom (also a writer) sort of didn’t think much about it. But the hobby kept getting bigger, and they ended up buying her a proper printer, so now she prints and distributes the monthly paper all on her own. She distributes two hundred copies of each issue to local businesses and there are more than 40 neighbors who pay $1 to have The Orange Street News brought to their homes just like in the good old days.
But Hilde isn’t dumb. The paper also has a website that she updates herself, and the tagline up top says: “The ONLY Newspaper Devoted to Selinsgrove! VANDALISM ON YOUR BLOCK? THE OSN WILL INVESTIGATE!”
Hilde is hardcore. She also has a fiction installment that Susquehanna University professor Anne Reeves told CJR is “creative and sometimes spooky and somewhat dark, always interesting.” Hilde is lucky she seems to have found her passion and has the opportunity to run with it. And even if she changes her mind along the way and decides to pick up something else, she’s already made her mark. Hilde — let’s do brunch.