Columbia Journalism Review
Image Credit: Columbia Journalism Review
Image Credit: Columbia Journalism Review

8-Year-Old Editor In Chief

In one small Pennsylvania town, an 8-year-old's newspaper is serving the public interest.

Joe Pompeo

Hilde Lysiak hopped on her bike and pedaled south past the old Selinsgrove Inn, past the farmers market with the Amish couple selling home-grown veggies and pies, past the local police station where no one was around to answer the door, and over the green truss bridge above Penns Creek before hanging a right onto a shady road that hugs the river. It was a brilliant July Saturday morning in Selinsgrove, a quaint hamlet of about 5,000 in Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River Valley, where Hilde publishes Selinsgrove’s only monthly newspaper, The Orange Street News.

Today was Selinsgrove’s sixth annual Ta-Ta Trot, a 5K that drew some 2,100 runners and raised more than $71,000 to fight breast cancer—a feel-good story, for sure, but Hilde wasn’t interested. There was hard news to chase.

Two days earlier, a small tornado had torn through town, toppling trees and scattering debris. The street along the river caught the brunt of it, and Hilde had come to survey the damage. She parked her bike, whipped out her Moto G Android smartphone, and started snapping pictures of downed branches and limbs. Then she walked up to a white ranch house and knocked on the door.

An older man with an ample potbelly answered, and apologized for being shirtless. With a mix of affability and confusion, he looked down at the freckly blonde 8-year-old standing before him. She had her pen and pad in hand. Homemade press credentials dangled from h


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