9-year-old is too busy reporting a murder to play with dolls, thanks anyway

Apr 5, 2016 at 5:29 p.m. ET
Image: Orange Street News/YouTube

Growing up, what little girl didn’t want to be Nancy Drew? A crime-fighting super sleuth who didn’t let her age or gender stop her from hunting down the bad guys.

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A 9-year-old girl from Pennsylvania may not be a detective, but she’s definitely the Nancy Drew of this decade's reporting world, and she made some headlines of her own this week for being the first person to break the news of a murder. Hilde Kate Lysiak is a bonafide reporter, proving that age is no barrier to delivering those big stories to her 5,000-strong community in Selinsgrove.

Third-grader Lysiak, whose dad, Matthew Lysiak, is a former Daily News reporter, writes the Orange Street News, with assistance from her older sister, fifth-grader Izzy (she’s responsible for the advice section).

On April 2, Lysiak got a tip about police activity on Ninth Street, a few blocks from her home. Arriving at the scene, she learned the police were investigating a murder. According to her write-up, which has the headline, "EXCLUSIVE: MURDER ON NINTH STREET!" and was online hours before the actual community paper covered the crime, a man is suspected of killing his wife with a hammer. She reported that EMTs were seen taking someone out of the house on a stretcher, and that the chief of police, Pennsylvania State Police, coroner and district attorney were all present at the crime scene.

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Most people have reacted to the story with a mixture of amazement, a healthy amount of skepticism (late April Fools' joke?) and a deep feeling of gratitude that kids like Lysiak actually exist in this world.

A fair amount of criticism has been directed toward the young reporter and her family, but — like any journalist worth her salt — the 9-year-old is completely unfazed by any negativity.

Basically, she’s too busy attending crime scenes to pay attention to demands that she go back to "playing with dolls."


Lysiak responded to her critics with a video message, during which she read some of their comments aloud ("You are 9 f***ing years old, what the f*** is wrong with you?" is one example of the maturity of those dissing a child).

"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?"

Convention has it that young girls are passive, fragile and emotional — more likely to be cowering at home in fear than getting out there and finding out exactly what bad stuff is happening in the world. Just like Nancy Drew did, Lysiak is bending convention, and for that every other 9-year-old girl should be grateful.

Keep doing what you're doing, Hilde! If you can deal with ignorant, small-minded naysayers at the age of 9, just imagine how strong you'll be at 29.

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