Hilde Kate Lysiak is a 9-year-old crime reporter from Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, who has become the center of controversy after reporting from the scene of a murder in her hometown of just 5,000 residents.
Lysiak is the daughter of former Daily News reporter, Matthew Lysiak. She writes for her homemade newspaper called the Orange Street News, with a little help from her older sister Izzy, who’s in the fifth grade. Typically, Lysiak covers community-based stories involving subjects like city council meetings, vandalism, and the occasional shooting of a rabid skunk.
However, that changed on one Saturday when Lysiak received a tip about police activity in her neighborhood. She and a parent went to the scene and began filming what she learned was the site of a gruesome murder. The suspect taken into custody was accused of killing his wife with a hammer.
The Orange Street News is withholding the name of the victim to make sure friends and family are told first,” she wrote.
Her father explained how his 9-year-old daughter became the first reporter to break the murder story, hours before the official local newspaper.
[I]t was her tenaciousness on the vandalism story that led her to the murder scene, her father said. “She heard they’d got the vandal,” Matthew Lysiak said. “She goes down to the police department and says, ‘I heard you caught the vandal.’ The chief says, ‘I’ve got a big story, I’ve gotta go.’”
Hilde began following up, and in the town of about 5,000 people, soon learned where the action was. “Because she’s the only one doing community news, she’s developed sources who trust her to cover the news. One of her sources contacted her, and she was able to confirm it with law enforcement. She knocked on every door, like she’d seen me do with the Daily News. There were no other reporters there.
The pre-teen journalist and her parents received a storm of criticism after she released a video on-the-scene report. Some of the members in her community lashed out at Lysiak and her parents.
Hilde, I think this is appalling that u would do a story like this when all the facts are not in yet,” one wrote. “Have some respect for all parties involved please.”
“9 year old girls should be playing with dolls, not trying to be reporters,” another agreed. In a comment that seems to have been deleted, the town’s former mayor called the story “sensationalist trash.”
“Does no one realize that this is a 9-year-old reporting this type of graphic information,” wrote a commenter on Facebook, according to The Washington Post. “I mean, what parents are encouraging this type of behavior!
Lysiak addressed the criticism in her paper:
People told me I should stick to tea parties and playing with dolls,” she wrote. “Maybe that’s what the ‘professionals’ were doing while I was working the scene, because they sure weren’t there.
In a video response, the 9-year-old journalist cheerfully fired back at her critics, even reading back some of the obscene comments directed toward her such as, “You are nine fucking years old, what the fuck is wrong with you?”
If you want me to stop covering news, then you get off your computer and do something about the news,” she suggested. “There, is that cute enough for you?
Here’s the full video of her excellent reply.
Lysiak’s video response quickly went viral earning national media attention. On Sunday, she and her mom did a CNN interview with host Brian Stelter. The host asked Lysiak how much her parents are involved in helping her with her newspaper. Lysiak told Stelter that she did all of the reporting herself, which includes writing and video segments, her parents help with technical aspects such as the website and printing.
I started handwriting a little paper for my family,” Lysiak recalled. “And [I] realized that my hand was hurting and it didn’t really get me anywhere. So, I told my dad I wanted to start a real newspaper, and he said he would do the printing and the layout as long as I did all the writing and reporting.
Concerning her critics, Lysiak once again delivered a blistering rebuke.
I like getting people the information,” she added. “Just being 9 doesn’t mean I can’t do great things. What if somebody told you, you couldn’t be a reporter just because you’re a boy?
Here’s the video of Lysiak’s CNN interview.
As for being labeled “cute,” Lysiak made it clear that she’s not interested in living up to that label. She wrote:
My parents and I have also been warned that covering this story meant my reporting was no longer “cute”. I don’t think people should be able to decide for me who I should be and what I should be doing. I never began my newspaper so that people would think I was cute. I started the Orange Street News to give people the information they need to know.
Featured image screengrab via YouTube