Hilde Lysiak, a kid reporter and the publisher of Orange Street News who has gained national attention for her local watchdog reporting, has moved to an Arizona-Mexico border town.
Hilde, 12, wrote an editorial published Monday about her family’s move from Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, to Patagonia, Arizona, just north of Mexico. Her father confirmed the move in a phone interview with The Arizona Republic.
Hilde said in her editorial that she wasn’t happy with the move but will take her parents’ decision as a way to challenge herself to become a better journalist.
“This wasn’t my choice. I didn’t ask for this move,” she wrote. But, she added, “I’m not slumping my shoulders. I intend of making the most of the move and use it as an opportunity to grow.”
Hilde has already made some waves in Patagonia.
In February, she challenged Patagonia Marshal Joseph Patterson when he incorrectly told her she couldn’t film him on a public street. The episode received national attention. Patagonia officials later apologized to Hilde and Patterson was disciplined.
‘Fell in love with the people and the landscape’
Matthew Lysiak, Hilde’s father and a journalist himself, said in an interview with The Republic that he and his wife had fallen in love with Arizona’s landscape when the family first vacationed in Patagonia about three years ago.
But before that vacation, Lysiak had come to Tucson to cover the shooting of then-U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords in 2011. At the time, he worked for the New York Daily News, where he was a reporter for 10 years.
While the shooting was tragic, he said, he “fell in love with the people and the landscape.”
“At the time, I promised myself that I would take my kids and wife,” he said.
So, three years ago, his family took a vacation to Patagonia. His wife, he said, also fell in love with the landscape. They agreed to move there, he said.
The family sold their house in Selinsgrove and permanently moved to Arizona three days ago, Lysiak said.
‘Patagonia just doesn’t have a lot of crime’
Patagonia is in Santa Cruz County and has a population of about 848. Other notable people that live or lived in the town include novelist and journalist Philip Caputo and poet and novelist Jim Harrison.
Hilde first garnered national attention at age 9 for breaking the news of a murder in her neighborhood. She said in her article that because Patagonia is a sleepy town, it would force her to cover other issues.
“Now it is time to expand my horizons. How? The OSN is going to shift focus from local crime to stories (unfortunately, Patagonia just doesn’t have a lot of crime),” she wrote, “to reporting on bigger investigations that have more national interest.”
She also extended her apologies and offered to refund anyone who has a subscription to Orange Street News, which until now had been a hyperlocal neighborhood publication.
“For those people, I would like to offer a full unconditional refund and my sincere apologies for not being able to meet my obligation,” she wrote. “I look forward to the day when I am 18 years old I am not at the mercy of others and will be able to make my own decisions.”
‘Freedom of the press stuff’
Hilde wrote about the incident with Patterson in an article published on her website on Feb. 18.
According to Hilde, Patterson stopped her and asked for her identification, and she identified herself by name and as a reporter.
“I don’t want to hear about any of that freedom of the press stuff,” Patterson reportedly told her.
Hilde later went up to Patterson with her camera recording and asked him to confirm that he threatened to arrest her and explain why. Patterson did so.
“You stopped me earlier and you said that I can be thrown in juvie. What exactly am I doing that’s illegal?” Hilde asked Patterson.
Before Patterson explained, he inaccurately told her she can’t use his image on the internet.
“You can tape me, OK. But what I’m going to tell you is if you put my face on the internet, it’s against the law in Arizona, OK?” he said. “So, I’m not giving you permission to use my picture or my face on the internet. Do you understand all that?”
The town subsequently apologized, which the young reporter accepted.
“The governing body of the town of Patagonia would like to apologize for the First Amendment rights violation inflicted upon Hilde Lysiak, a young reporter who is in our community,” Mayor Andrea Wood had said at the time in a statement. “We are sorry, Hilde. We encourage and respect your continued aspirations as a successful reporter.”
In 2016, Hilde became a media sensation. At the time, she was 9 and had broken the news about a homicide in her neighborhood in Selinsgrove. The headline on that April 2, 2016, story was EXCLUSIVE: MURDER ON NINTH STREET!
The article attracted critical comments from social-media users, questioning whether it was appropriate for a 9-year-old girl to report on a crime scene.
Hilde responded to her critics with a three-minute video in which she is wearing a button on her shirt that said, “I ♥ free speech.” She read some of the harsh comments from social-media users and responded to them.
“I know some of you just want me to sit down and be quiet because I’m 9,” she said. “If you want me to stop covering news, then you get off your computers and do something about the news. There, is that cute enough for you?”
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