According to the 2000 census report, there were 5,383 people in Selinsgrove, Penn. And according to the esteemed Columbia Journalism Review, the best reporter in town is Hilde Lysiak, who started her own newspaper, the Orange Street News.
In addition to covering the standard local-paper fare of store openings and fundraisers, her newspaper has also broken stories ranging from robberies to murders.
Oh, and one other thing: Lysiak is 9 years old.
But recently the third-grader came under fire after breaking a local murder story, which involved a husband allegedly killing his wife with a hammer.
Lisiak’s headline: “EXCLUSIVE: MURDER ON NINTH STREET!”
“I got a tip from a good source and was able to confirm it,” she said, explaining what set off the chain of events — ultimately involving good old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting — that made her the first to bring any kind of media attention to the crime. Larger regional press outlets began following the story only after Lysiak published her scoop.
“I had the information on my website hours before the competition even got there,” she notes.
When some locals told Lysiak that perhaps young girls were better off “play[ing] with dolls” or “hav[ing] tea parties,” she hit back at her critics the way only a hardened reporter knows how — creating a viral video (with the help of older sister Isabel) explaining to them just why girls can do anything.
Especially cover the murder beat.
Lysiak tells Yahoo Beauty that she first got into journalism after tagging along with her dad (former New York Daily News reporter Matt Lysiak) on stakeouts. “That’s when I realized that’s what I wanted to do,” she says. Now she is hunting down vandals who are pulling up bushes on the Selinsgrove Commons and chasing down suspected drug dealers at the local playground.
“When people say I can’t because I’m a girl, it makes me angry,” she says. “It makes me angry to think that people think just because I am 9, I can’t do good work.”
She says she made the video that so perfectly encapsulates everything about the kinds of cultural messages we send girls — and the real repercussions of those messages (and the beauty of ignoring them) — because “I just wanted to lay it out there. I wanted to put it out there that it didn’t matter much to me what they’re saying, and just because I am 9 and a girl doesn’t mean I can’t do great reporting.”
This is only the beginning for the young reporter’s career. “I just love journalism so much,” she says. “It just feels so accomplishing to me. I like letting people know the truth, you know?”
Her tips for aspiring journalists? “If you take other people seriously, they’ll most likely take you seriously too. This is how I started this newspaper.”
And her tips for any haters?
“Just because you’re a girl, you can do as much as boys.”
And speaking of tweens who are killing it, here’s another one: This 9-Year-Old Just Crushed a 24-Hour Fitness Competition