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Susquehanna Life

Budding Entrepreneur Publishes Newspaper at Age 8

Dec 22, 2015 09:05PM ● By Erica Shames

Last June, when beat reporter Hilde Lysiak heard a rumor that a burglary had occurred in a residential Selinsgrove neighborhood, she dropped by the police department and requested a report of the incident.

Police not only refused to provide an official report, they would not answer Hilde’s questions about the crime. Hilde, undaunted by the lack of police cooperation, did what any investigative journalist would do—she began knocking on doors in the Orange Street neighborhood until she found the location of the break-in.

To a crime reporter in a major metropolitan newspaper, the incident may seem trivial, but to 8-year-old Hilde, getting the story presented a challenge—one she overcame. Hilde is the sole reporter for the four-page, 11 x 17-inch, full-color tabloid-style newspaper, and the owner and publisher. Her father, an author, freelance writer and a former New York Daily News reporter, serves as editor and mentor.

The journalism bug

Hilde, one of four daughters of Matthew and Bridget Lysiak, said that in the future she doesn't want to be just a reporter, she wants to own and publish her own newspaper. Hilde is not the only member of the family to catch the journalism bug and follow in her father’s footsteps; her 11-year-old sister Isabel gets paid $25 by an area newspaper to write “Ask Izzy,” a weekly advice column for kids under 13.

In 1997, Matt, following a battle with cancer, quit high school to start his own tabloid-style newspaper, The Danvillian.  Ultimately, Bridget agreed to move to New York to support Matt’s desire to become a journalist. In 2009, Matt took a position with the Daily News as a general assignment and crime reporter.

In 2012 Matt covered the Newton, Connecticut, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. After several months covering the story, Matt obtained a publishing contract to write “Newton: An American Tragedy,” (Simon & Schuster), published near the first anniversary of the event. The book deal provided the Lysiaks with the financial stability to move from New York to Selinsgrove. Matt, whose second book, Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator Is Changing the World (Harper Collins), was published in March, also freelances for magazines and other news outlets.

“About a year ago, Hilde started making papers for our family, writing it by hand,” Matt said. “She was good at it.”

A short time later, Hilde informed her father she wanted “to do a real newspaper.” Matt wasn't sure how committed his daughter would be to the project, but agreed to help her as long as she would be responsible “for taking the photos, doing all of the reporting and writing the stories. She took the ball and ran with it.”

Editorial vs business side

The first edition of the Orange Street News hit the streets in December 2014. By September, The first edition of the Orange Street News hit the streets in December 2014. By September, there were about 50 subscribers who pay a dollar or two annually to have Hilde deliver the newspaper. The cost of producing the monthly newspaper is primarily supported by Matt’s largess and subscription fees. While the newspaper does not currently sell ad space, it is a consideration for the near future.

“Hilde is great at the newspaper [editorial] side, but not so good at the business side,” Matt said. “We print over 200 newspapers and she puts them out for free at stores and libraries. She also wants to add four more pages.”

The Lysiaks decided to home-school Hilde this year because of her intense focus on producing the newspaper. Matt and Bridget didn’t want Hilde, or their other daughters, to spend all day at school and all night working on homework and pursuing other structured activities. They recognize the importance of unstructured free time, something many children their age do not have.

Matt said he is teaching Hilde to write leads, nut graphs, providing quotes and a kicker. While he offers advice, he is very careful not to stifle Hilde’s creativity by micromanaging her work, he said.

“If you take yourself seriously, other people will take you seriously,” Hilde said. “My friends think it’s pretty cool. I don't like it when people treat me like a kid and say 'sorry, you cannot have that information.'”

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Written by Jeffrey B. Roth, a correspondent for Thomson-Reuters. He also writes for magazines in PA and Maryland. 

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