VANDALISM? CORRUPTION? HAVE NO WHERE ELSE TO TURN? NO STORY TOO BIG OR SMALL THE OSN WILL INVESTIGATE! Please email news tips to Hildelysiak@gmail.com
When I began the Orange Street News in November of 2014 I had only one subscriber, my grandma. She paid $1 and a piece of gum for a year subscription. Seven year-old me thought I had hit it big time!
My second subscriber was my neighbor Sue. I’m pretty sure she was just being nice.
But those first few months were pretty slow. I remember knocking on doors up and down Orange Street in the freezing cold handing out the free papers I had made from my home computer. I got a lot of “oh isn’t she cute” looks but not a lot of subscribers.
But looking back I understand why people who weren’t related to me or living next door were blowig me off. After all, people weren’t exactly dying to read stories like my baby sister being born and my neighbor talking about how dorm rooms smell bad!
But since then a lot has changed. I got older and began reporting on more serious stories.
An intruder thwarted by a hero dog.
A plant vandal striking the Selinsgrove Commons.
(FYI I got a confession from the vandal you can hear here)
I even time chased a suspected drug dealer around and recorded the whole thing with my cell phone!
They weren’t the biggest stories in the world but a lot of people in my community cared.
Before I knew it, I even starting getting sources.
And I noticed something else, the harder I worked, the more subscribers I got. Then people who weren’t related to me began subscribing. A reporter named Joe Pompeo even came all the way from New York to see me report the news. He borrowed my dad’s bike and followed me around all day as I reported. He didn’t treat me like a kid. He treated me like a serious reporter.
But then everything changed one day in April of 2016.
That was the day the Orange Street News was the first to report that a homicide happened in my community. People around the country were really shocked that I got that story but it really wasn’t as difficult as people made it seem. It happened just a few blocks away. I got a solid tip that I was able to confirm and began knocking on doors. I was the only reporter at the scene for several hours so it wasn’t like I had a lot of competition. In fact, I had no competition.
But still, a lot of people got upset that someone so young was reporting on something so serious. But they were just looking at my age, not my reporting. I reported the facts to the people. The right facts. That’s the job of a reporter and I took it seriously.
But I never wanted to be known just as the “little girl” who broke the story of the murder. Or as that “adorable girl reporter.” (gag)
I just wanted to be known as a REPORTER. A good reporter who people can trust to get them the news.
So I kept working.
Since breaking the story of the homicide I’ve published hundreds of stories. And broken countless exclusives that no one else has been covering like the drug problem at my high school and the corruption at my local fire department.
I made sure to keep reporting straight news. I never put my opinion in a news story.
And the as my reporting grew so did my readers
And so many other great things have happened too. I got a book deal with Scholastic (FULL DISCLOSURE I GET A LOT OF HELP WRITING THE BOOKS thank you Katie)
People are even making a television show based on my life (Thank you Joy, Dana, Dara and Sharlene!!).
But when earlier today the Orange Street News hit the one million hits mark I felt shocked. This is something I never expected.
That number is hard to comprehend. And I usually don’t care about that kind of thing, but this time I took a second to think about it.
I couldn’t help but think back to that first subscription. The one I sold to my grandma.
She was my first supporter. I can’t even imagine what she would say if she was still around to see all of this!
But she was my grandma and I was her granddaughter and she just wanted to make me happy.
But since then so many more people who I’ve never met and who don’t know me began to support me. First in Selinsgrove. Then people from all across the country.
A million of you.
It is all of you are all who makes the Orange Street News possible.
It is humbling and flattering.
Now its time to get back to the news.
Well, Congratulations! I read your work every day. I just wish that more reporters were like you – just the facts. Can’t wait till you report national news. Thank you for being so good and Hey, you are a cute little kid who is just super good at what you do.
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Great story and you deserve all the recognition! Don’t be afraid to be “a cute kid”. Sometimes that can open doors for you! Also, I know you like to report only the facts, but maybe an editorial once a month or so would give your news a more personal note. I think your subscribers would like it.
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I just read an article about you in The Washington Post and just had to check out your site. Your stories are definitely all about “just the facts” and I appreciate you keeping that golden standard in all you write. Keep up the good work.