Journalist Lysiak, 12, addresses Reed College of Media graduates

MORGANTOWN — In what might seem like an odd bit of marketing from an institution selling higher education to would-be journalists, a 12-year-old reporter provided the keynote address Friday morning during the WVU Reed College of Media commencement, held in the Coliseum.
Though, to be fair, Hilde Lysiak is not your typical reporter, nor your typical pre-teen.
At 7, Lysiak became the founder and publisher of, and lone reporter for, Orange Street News, a publication in Selinsgrove, Pa.,  that now boasts  more than 700 paid subscribers and worldwide interest online.
So when she says she’s been breaking murder stories since she was 9 — it’s not exaggeration, it’s biography.
Lysiak wasted little time in dispensing some back-to-basics insights to the grads: Keep your writing tight, play it close to the vest, get out in the community, ignore the comment section and don’t forget who you work for.
“A reporter works for the people. You don’t work for the police. You don’t work for government. You work for the people,” she said, later adding “Reporting is about getting the truth to the people. How do you get to the truth? The same way reporters have gotten to the truth for years, by answering six sacred questions of journalism — who, what, when, where, why, how.”
Lysiak expressed her optimism for the future of news reporting while offering a frank assessment of its present.
She said  the press is facing a crisis of public confidence, largely self-inflicted by “so-called reporters” who have willingly exchanged the obligation to inform for the opportunity to influence.
“We aren’t pro-Trump reporters. We aren’t anti-Trump reporters. We aren’t right-wing reporters and we aren’t left-wing reporters,” she said. “We are the generation that will be known simply as ‘reporters.’ That’s a trust I guard with my life and so should you.”
The truth must come first, she said, even when it’s not popular.
“It won’t be easy and you won’t make a lot of money. And if you’re great at your job, you will be despised by more people than you can possibly imagine.”
Already the youngest member of the Society of Professional Journalists,  it’s believed Lysiak may now be the youngest person to ever deliver a commencement address.
WVU’s Reed School of Media includes graduate programs in journalism, data marketing and marketing communications as well as undergraduate degrees in journalism, strategic communications and multidisciplinary studies.
Lysiak was introduced by the school’s dean, Maryanne Reed, who wished the 235 or so graduates luck as they prepare to enter the rapidly-evolving world of communication. Reed also threw in a few words of encouragement.
“Your degree has value and so do you,” she said.  “You are bright. You are determined. You are resilient. You are creative, with a strong sense of purpose and mission, which is exactly what’s needed right now.”
Twitter  @DominionPostWV

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