When a 9-year-old journalist understands the world better than most people

If I could offer any advice to young people, it would be to always stay curious.

Never accept things for what they are simply because we’re told to. Always ask questions. And don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. Because that’s the only way change ever happens.

Knowledge is the most attractive quality a person can possess. It’s also the most powerful quality a person can possess.

It’s very easy to go about your life shielding yourself from the the shortcomings of our world. It’s simpler to just pretend that everything is OK, that the people of power in this world really are honest and are looking out for our best interests.

But even that is better alternative than what most people do, and that is forming your opinions based on what you read on Facebook. Too many people watch a 30-second news clip, or read a biased post by one of their friends, only to repeat it in conversation the next day as if it is fact. That’s how lies and misinformation perpetuates. And it’s become an unfortunate consequence of the social media boom.

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It takes effort to stay informed. It requires a lot of reading, and a good amount of research before you can learn who you can really trust. But the more you read, the more perspective you will gain. That’s a fact.

Now I’m not saying to be paranoid. Or to not trust anybody. There’s a big distinction there to be made. Stay critical. Learn to understand both sides in an argument. The more perspectives you gain, the more you will learn.

It’s always inspiring to see young people who do make the effort to stay informed and formulate their own opinions after doing their own research. I wish I could say I was like then when I was in my early 20s, or even a teenager.

And that’s why I was truly and wholeheartedly amazed today when I learned of a young woman named Hilde Kate Lysiak.

The young journalist does her own reporting of her small Pennsylvania borough, named Selinsgrove. She does on-site interviews, attends local government hearings, reads police reports, and then posts the articles on her own online website, called Orange Street News.

And she’s 9 years old.

As a former journalist for more than five years, I can be critical of other people’s writingOSN2.jpg and reporting. But I’ve read several of Lysiak’s stories, and they are well-organized, informative, objective and concise. Is there plenty of room for growth? Of course. But she’s well on her way.

It’s good journalism for anybody’s standards, let alone a 9-year-old.

She became a media sensation this past week after her reporting on a local homicide earned her scathing remarks from people on her Facebook page, wondering why a 9-year-old should be investigating and reporting on such a serious crime. Some even said she should be playing with dolls instead.

Lysiak responded to her critics in a much more mature way than most people would, saying in a short video clip, “I know some of you just want me to sit down and be quiet because I’m 9. If you want me to stop covering news, then you get off your computers and do something about the news.”

She then leaned even closer to the screen and said, “There. Is that cute enough for you?”

That’s a mic drop if I ever saw one. She has since been reported on by the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Guardian, and even made an appearance on “Good Morning America” Her Facebook page has nearly 20,000 followers.

America appears to be undergoing some type of identity crisis in recent years, which has become more amplified with this divisive presidential election. As disheartening as it’s been to see, I’ve long said that I have an incredible amount of faith in our younger generation to restore the values of tolerance and acceptance that our nation is built on.

But that’s only going to work if the younger generation does their very best to seek out the truth in order to keep themselves informed and knowledgeable.

Seeing someone like Hilde Kate Lysiak only makes me even more of a believer.

Keep doing what you’re doing. Because it’s people like you who will grow up to influence the world.

Congratulations, young lady, you’ve earned a fan in me today.

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