HERE’S a headline to inspire journalists young and old – “Arizona reporter, 12, receives apology after threat of jail” (The Guardian, Saturday, March 2).
Hilde Lysiak is a pre-teen reporter who set up her own publication in Pennsylvania, the Orange Street News. She was riding her bike to investigate a tip-off in Patagonia, Arizona, when the town marshal Joseph Patterson stopped her and threatened to put her in juvenile jail.
According to the report Hilde later wrote for her newspaper, Patterson said: “I don’t want to hear about any of that freedom of the press stuff. I’m going to have you arrested and thrown in ‘juvey’.”
The town’s mayor later apologised. Hilde said she was satisfied and added: “Now I just want to move forward with covering the news.”
There is more to Hilde Lysiak than even this story suggests, but we shall come to that in a moment. Let’s just hope that she doesn’t fall foul of her media-hating president. Never mind ‘juvey’, you can’t help but worry that Donald Trump would like to see all those pesky reporters sent to prison so that they’d stop with their infernal questions.
Young Hilde should also watch out for the attentions of Media Lens, a long-running anti-media two-man-band pressure group. They’ll be on to her in a flash if they suspect that she’s been operating as part of a propaganda system for the elite interests that dominate modern society. That’s their brief and their beef, you see.
The inhabitant of this ledge has been pointed towards Media Lens more than once. It’s a profitable place to visit for an alternative view on the media. But you are only going to get one perspective, as Media Lens is based on a pathological hatred of the media.
Believing every word from Media Lens is as sensible as swallowing every spittle-flecked adjective in a leader in the Sun or the Daily Telegraph. You know what you are getting when you buy the Sun; and you know what you are buying into when you read up how evil the media is on Media Lens.
Anyway, let’s go back to the future of journalism. I think we can assume there will be one, even if it will be different than the inky sheets that wrapped us in the past. And whatever shape journalism takes, it will need the likes of Hilde Lysiak. If 12 sounds young to be reporting, Hilde is already a bit of a veteran.
According to a report Washington Post on February 22, she “made a name for herself in 2016 by being the first to report on a grisly murder in her hometown, then firing back at the haters who suggested that a 9-year-old girl shouldn’t be hanging around crime scenes.
“Since then, she has continued to break news about bank robberies, alleged rapes and other lurid crimes in the Orange Street News, the paper that she publishes out of her parents’ home in Selinsgrove, Pa.”
What that short report in the foreign pages of Guardian didn’t mention is that Hilde Lysiak’s exploits have inspired a series of Scholastic books, written with her journalist father, Matthew, and an Apple TV show.
She is making her mark already and good luck to her. Journalism needs the likes of Hilde Lysiak, especially as it sounds like she already knows how to make a useful nuisance of herself.