Most 8 year old girls are worrying about hanging out with their friends, having sleepovers, and doing well in school. There is one little girl in America who has taken on the job of providing the news for her local town. Why? Well, because her small town of 5,000 people do not have a local newspaper, if anything, they have radio and small media outlets to share the news with.
In the small town of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, Hilde Lysiak rides her bike everyday through her small town to find out the latest thing. She takes with her a press badge (that she made at home), a pen and writing pad and jots down anything news worthy. In the case of a tornado that swept through town one time she goes around to neighbor’s houses knocking on doors asking questions about what happened in order to find out how people are dealing with the aftermath. She will even ride out to crime scenes and poke around asking questions. The reason she does all these things is because she understands the importance of finding a good story people want to read about. She is responsible for coming up with all the story ideas, then writing the stories and taking the pictures to go along with those stories. Her dad, who used to work for the New York Daily News as a reporter, helps with the formatting, layout structure, typing, and printing. Together they produce 200 copies each month for the residents who have signed up for the subscription which costs about $2 dollars a year. Not bad for young entrepreneur.
The Roots of her Cause
Her dad worked for a major newspaper and she caught the bug of being a journalist. She loves the idea of being able to go around asking questions and butting into people’s lives to find out what is happening in order to tell other people with the articles she writes. Her father has taught her many of the terms that journalists need to know in order to write a good story, like the terms, nut graph and lede. She understands the importance of these two words when writing any kind of story.
Hilde knows that she has to go out everyday in order to find the most interesting story. She watched her dad do the same thing, he would have to run out to cover the story. She learned that you have to jump anytime something interesting happens otherwise you miss the opportunity to provide your readers with something newsworthy to read. She doesn’t run a blog but the fact that she runs her own newspaper is a perfect example of how she is learning business and what better way is there to learn business than by jumping head-first into the whole experience.
The Making of a Young Entrepreneur
There are many aspects of Hilde’s life that are worth looking at in order to understand how she came to do the things she does now. Young entrepreneurs are individuals who have an inner drive that is not restricted by anything. They are encouraged to follow through on their ideas and made to see that they complete what they are passionate about. Let’s look at a few important traits that make up a young budding entrepreneur.
Freedom to Explore
Hilde is allowed to ride her bike in order to find the best stories around which means she has to be observant and ready the moment she hears about anything in her town. This means she knows all the roads and how to get to places the quickest because all good reporters know that the first one to the scene gets the good stuff. Her passion and curiosity is what drives her to go out and find news events that people want to read about. Good stories happen when you poke around and she doesn’t mind asking questions, and for her sake also getting people to spell things out for her, but the fact that she doesn’t have a fear of doing this is what makes her fearless in an industry that is sinking everyday because of digital news.
The next great thing about her adventures is that her parents don’t restrict her from chasing a good story when she hears about it. If she lived in a home that forced her to only go as far as the front yard or backyard that would kill her creativity right there. Hilde has parents that let her explore on her bike the world around her. She works on her articles both at home and the local cafe when she has deadlines approaching, another tell-tale sign of the life she comes to expect living in this world. She is growing up thinking that all kids her age, 8 years old, get to go out and explore their world whenever they want. Unfortunately, more and more parents are killing their children’s curiosity of exploring because of their own paranoid feeling that something bad might happen to them. The truth is with all the technology kids have today, kids are actually a lot safer than decades ago when kids didn’t have smartphones that can be programmed to do all sorts of things. Hilde has a smartphone that she uses to take photos with, keep in contact with her parents but also to make notes and record video.
Creating Her Own Stage
The newspaper is Hilde’s idea so that means can she put whatever stories she thinks people want to read about, including her own creative-fiction stories she writes. Many people complain that they are not able to get their work out there for people to read or see because they keep getting rejected. Hilde didn’t want to work for some media space or newspaper so she created her own on her terms. She charges people a yearly subscription at a cost that is very affordable to everyone that signs up. This platform she created is her own outlet for expressing the views and stories that she feels are important to know.
Hilde is learning what it takes to run a newspaper because she gave herself the job plus the experience she gets from her dad helping her. Entrepreneurs don’t let setbacks like a little town get in their way of achieving their dreams. Instead they use that as motivation for creating something out of nothing so other people can enjoy the benefits too. Her town didn’t have a newspaper because it was too small to have one so it was filled by a girl who knew the importance of learning about what is happening around town. No doubt she watches and reads the news to learn how to improve what she does.
Entrepreneurs are always looking for a problem so they can provide a solution. Young entrepreneurs have it easier because they have the comfort of knowing that if something goes wrong they have mom and dad to help them. This is why young people need to be encouraged to go and take risks on their ideas while they are still young in order to learn from their mistakes. Being kept at home and sheltered does nothing for a young person, instead that is the recipe for killing creativity.
Hilde knows that she wants to turn this newspaper into something bigger but also is aware that she does not want to work for anyone. This passion project of her’s will teach her the ins and outs of running a business and the challenges that come with it. Most third graders are worried about multiplication whereas, Hilde is facing the challenge of getting more people to subscribe and make money.
Hilde has the support of her family because it was the same kind of work that her father did. She is familiar with the conditions that go along with that job because she watched her dad do the same thing for years before being let go. Kids need to know that they have the support and attention from their parents and who ever else they look up to. That mental safety net is what keeps them going with their idea. Their passion is able to flourish because they know that what they are doing is supported by the people who love them and are looking out for them.
Hilde works on her paper knowing that her dad and mom will fix any mistakes she makes, a process that she is learning from. She writes her stories because the people who read them encourage her to keep working at it. That talent takes time to build so with every issue that comes out she gets feedback right away from people, which she can take and use the next time she sits down and writes. Now many writers get feedback in the beginning so this will help and teach her the process of story writing.
The pressures of running any kind of business are not apparent in the beginning because most are still in the honeymoon phase of their personal project. It is hard to see anything going wrong when you start any kind of enterprise, regardless the size and scope of it. The demands of running a simple newspaper might not seem like a lot but in finding stories to write about a good news reporter has to be where the action is at. Even if that means missing her favorite TV shows or dinner with the family.
In order to write about what is happening one has to be at the right spot at the right time and for a place with as little as 5000 people, it’s hard to find interesting things to write about so Hilde has taken it upon herself to be where the important people are in order to learn about what is happening within her community. She attends town meetings or any meeting that will let her attend. She will ask questions in order to learn more about an issue. This habit will carry her into a lot of areas in life because not everyone is comfortable asking questions. No doubt she attends other meetings around her town for her readers to know about so she really has to ask a lot of questions in order to find out what is happening. In addition to meetings she will show up at crime scenes, take photos, and interview people. This is all done without the permission or help from the police.
Entrepreneurs are people who love learning and they do not need any kind of carrot on a stick to get their attention. They go out and learn everything they can on a subject until they become an expert, or in the case of Hilde, enough to write a story. Her passion to know what is going on around her keeps her constantly learning and asking questions. This means that at home she is asking her parents questions all the time, reading up on stories, and prying into other people’s lives.
The prying part comes at a cost but her drive, determination, and support of her family all keep her going. She discovered that the local high school doesn’t have a printed paper because the costs are too high so she wrote a story about it. The superintendent informed her that people still had the option to get a printed version at home on their own computer and printer. Hilde is learning what it means to deal with people about situations and issues that come up. Sooner or later her cuteness will wean and eventually, like all people, she will be dealing with brick walls that people will put up in front of her because she is digging too deep but as any journalist or reporter knows, that is when you know you have found something worth reporting, when people start giving you trouble.
Chances are she will continue her paper and work on her highschool paper and even college paper to get more experience. That process of learning is what she looks forward too.
The challenge that Hilde has for her age is finding the next big story. That is something that keeps her out there everyday asking questions because she knows that she has to give her readers something worth reading. Her family used to live in New York where something was happening every minute. Hilde says that she misses that life but the freedom she has to go out and explore in her small town allows her to learn more about her life and the world she lives in than if she lived in New York where she wouldn’t be allowed such freedom.
Her newspaper is creating a lot of attention and if she follows the direction right could start bringing in more money. People around town have mentioned advertising in her newspaper so with the help of her dad that could be a way to support her project and maybe pay for college later on.
In any case, the story of Hilde is just one of the many young entrepreneurs out there who are creating their own opportunities. They didn’t wait for someone to come and tell them it was ok, instead they took the reins and gave themselves their own speaking platform. In this day and age it is very easy to do such a thing now with zero cost. It takes passion, drive, risk-taking, and determination to make it all happen. If you have the support you need to make it happen then why not go out and do it? Hilde has all the right traits in place so it won’t be long before she starts writing guest articles for major newspapers. Her sister, Izzy, currently writes a guest column for a newspaper in another county where she gets to give advice, which she makes $25 dollars a week. It seems like advice giving, storytelling, and journalism all runs strong in her family.
You can learn more about Hilde and her family in the articles below. Her dad, Matt, wrote articles on the Sandy Hook shootings when he covered it for several months. He ended up writing a book on the whole situation entitled, Newtown: An American Tragedy.
8-Year-Old Runs Her Town’s Monthly Newspaper
Is this 8-year-old’s newspaper better than yours?