What's Trending

Spotlight on global rich... and a young reporter

Two separate investigations light up online message boards, forums

NEVER TOO YOUNG TO HAVE PASSION

"Exclusive - Murder on Ninth Street", the headline read.

The details in the accompanying story are vivid - a 75-year-old man is suspected of murdering his wife with a hammer in a small Pennsylvania town named Selinsgrove earlier this month.

The reporter, acting on a tip-off, rushed down to the scene before the other news agencies caught wind of the tragedy. She interviewed the couple's neighbours, pressed the police for a statement, and furnished the online report with photos and a video.

"I'm working hard on this investigation," she says in a short 30-second clip.

By all accounts, reporter Hilde Kate Lysiak did her job reporting the news well. The other news agencies filed their stories only several hours later.

But many netizens took issue with the fact that Hilde was not - in their opinion - a "real" journalist. Perhaps it could be because she is just nine years old.


Nine-year-old reporter Hilde Kate Lysiak drew criticism as well as praise from netizens for reporting on a possible murder on her news website Orange Street News. PHOTO: HILDE KATE LYSIAK/ YOUTUBE

Hilde, who operates the website Orange Street News, is the daughter of New York Daily News reporter Matthew Lysiak.

Her first story, written two years ago in December 2014, was on the birth of her younger sister Juliet, where she interviewed their mother. "We had the baby because we love children and wanted to have more," Mrs Bridget Lysiak was quoted as saying.

These days Hilde tackles harder topics. Her latest stories cover a range of topics, from how the police are refusing to identify a vandal, to an exclusive interview with a Belgian exchange student, to her thoughts about the Brussels terror attacks.

But it was the article about the Ninth Street murder which attracted the highest number of disparaging comments and flak.

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"This article, paper, whatever the heck it is, is a complete joke. Horrible!" said a Facebook user.

"I am disgusted that this cute little girl thinks she is a real journalist. What happened to tea parties?" asked another. "Nine-year-old girls should be playing with dolls, not trying to be reporters."

Even the town's former mayor chimed in, calling her reporting "sensationalist trash".

But the feisty journalist refused to be cowed, releasing a video (shot and edited by her older sister) responding to critics.

"Because of my work, I was able to inform the people that there was a terrible murder hours before my competition even got to the scene," she said.

"I know some of you just want me to sit down and be quiet because I'm nine but if you want me to stop covering news then you get off your computer and do something about it," she added. "There, is that cute enough for you?"

Hilde's story was covered by news outlets like The Washington Post and The Guardian.

Her new-found fame has drawn fans from all corners of the Internet, many of whom look to her as a role model. Now that is an impressive feat, no matter what age you are.

#PANAMAPAPERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Outstanding journalism was a hot topic last week. The hashtag #PanamaPapers has been trending since the world's largest data leak was revealed last Sunday.

The information, released through a network of journalists, documented dealings that the rich and powerful had with Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

The casualties so far include prominent politicians, officials and heads of banks.

According to social media platform Twitter, the most popular tweet to emerge in the first few days of the news came from famed whistleblower Edward Snowden.

"The story behind the #PanamaPapers? Courage is contagious," he said in a message that has been retweeted almost 14,000 times.

Another top tweet came from US presidential nominee Bernie Sanders, who spoke out against the Panama Free Trade Agreement way back in 2011.

He reposted his speech, which has been shared massively.

All in all, a massive 4.4 million tweets relating to the Panama Papers were sent out in the first five days following the leak, Twitter said.

The vast scope of the information released also meant that the average user and news agencies alike relied on social media to keep abreast of the developments.

On Reddit, for instance, a live update thread was set up to crowdsource links and information on "news and background details regarding the Panama Papers".

The thread is a result of the hard work of dozens of users, most of whom contribute anonymously.

Media outlets like Vox also picked up Reddit user Dan Gliesack's simple yet effective summary in a thread asking users to "explain the situation like you would to a five-year-old".

The Redditor said he was "happy to contribute to the conversation".

"I'm not the ultimate authority on the matter. I wrote it, but the community upvoted it and gave it a platform," he added.

RICH KIDS SAY TOO MUCH IN ONLINE POSTS

Who knew that the secret to uncovering tax dodgers would be to monitor the social media feeds of their children?

The self-styled rich children on Instagram, who typically flaunt their wealth with shots of lavish villas, gaudy jewellery and high-end yachts or private jets, have come under the scrutiny of cyber security firms.

These companies use evidence extracted from their social media activity in up to 75 per cent of the litigation cases that involve their parents. Such cases include tax evasion, divorces and asset disputes.

Managing director of K2 Intelligence Oisín Fouere told The Guardian that social media is fast becoming its first "port of call". In one example, a man who claimed to have no significant valuables was ultimately betrayed by a social media post by one of his children, which let slip that the family was on his yacht in the Bahamas.

In another example, a cyber security firm gathered the available geo-data embedded within social media images posted by the children of a couple undergoing a messy divorce. From there, investigators were able to track down the hidden assets owned by the husband by cross referencing with the land registry, and bring that evidence up to court.

Eventually, the wife received her due, all thanks to her children.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 10, 2016, with the headline 'What'sTrending Spotlight on global rich... and a young reporter'. Print Edition | Subscribe