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Nine-Year-Old Defends Reporting Murder Story

In this September 2015, photo provided by Matthew Lysiak, Hilde Kate Lysiak poses for a photo at her home in Selinsgrove, Pa. Lysiak, a 9-year-old reporter, recently wrote about a suspected murder in her small Pennsylvania town and is defending herself after some locals lashed out about a young girl covering violent crime. (Isabel Rose Lysiak via AP)
Nine-Year-Old Defends Reporting Murder Story
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A 9-year-old reporter is defending her work after people in her small Pennsylvania town criticized her for covering a murder.

They said Hilde Kate Lysiak should be “playing with dolls,” or having “tea parties,” instead of covering a serious crime.

Hilde runs the Orange Street News in her hometown of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, 240 kilometers northwest of Philadelphia.

The young reporter got a “tip” that something happened in her town on April 2. At the scene, she got details of the crime, and later that day, posted a story and a video clip on her website,

In the video, she said a man was suspected of murdering his wife with a hammer. Standing near a police vehicle, Hilde said, “I’m working hard on this investigation.”

She beat the regular news media to the story.

But soon after she posted her story, the negative comments started on her Facebook page and YouTube channel. People said she should “play with dolls” instead. And they questioned her parents’ judgment in letting her report the story.

Hilde’s reaction?

"It kind of gets me angry because just because I'm 9 doesn't mean I can't do a great story," she said to the Associated Press. "It doesn't mean I can't be a reporter."

On her YouTube channel, Hilde reads some of the angry comments aimed at her. She wears a red bow in her hair, and a button that says, “I (love) free speech.”

She smiles after she reads aloud this one, “I am disgusted that this cute little girl thinks she is a journalist. What happened to tea parties?”

Another critic wrote “nine-year-old girls should be playing with dolls, not trying to be reporters.”

In another video response, Hilde defends her work:

“I know this makes some of you uncomfortable, and I know some of you just want me to sit down and be quiet because I’m nine," she says. But if you want me to stop covering news, then you get off your computer and do something about the news. There, is that cute enough for you?,” she asks.

She has run the Orange Street News since 2014. She gets some help from her father, Matthew Lysiak, a former reporter for the New York Daily News. Her 12-year-old sister Isabel handles videos and photos.

At first, it was a newspaper for her family, written in crayon. But now it has become a community news provider, with short stories posted on a website and a Facebook page.

Some of the other stories she has reported on have been, drug use by middle school-aged children in a park, and several acts of property damage. Hilde has also written about the many empty storefronts in downtown Selinsgrove.

Matthew Lysiak said the comments on his daughter's stories are usually positive.

Lysiak said when he worked for the Daily News, sometimes he would take her along on the job.

"She found journalism really interesting, and my older daughter, too," he said. "They would ask lots of questions."

He told the AP that she usually is not bothered by comments, and usually does not read them. But the tea party comment, he said, "really lit a fuse under her."

I’m Anne Ball.

Anne Ball adapted this story based on an Associated Press report. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

tip –n. information about a breaking story

negative –adj. harmful or bad

disgusted – n. (past) strong feeling of dislike, annoyed or angered

journalist –n. reporter

crayon –n. a stick of colored wax for drawing

embraced –v. to accept someone readily and gladly

lit a fuse – phrase. get someone to react strongly

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