Brooklynn Prince in “Home Before Dark”, inspired by Hilde Lysiak.

It's all about young achievers – a teenage musical prodigy and a nine-year-old journalist – for streaming columnist NICK OVERALL, who rather tellingly also admits: "When I was nine I think I was still chasing my dream to become a dinosaur."

DOES a nine-year-old girl investigating a murder mystery seem far fetched? 

Nick Overall.

Well the Apple TV+ series “Home Before Dark”, with that very premise, draws inspiration from a real-life story that proves truth really is stranger than fiction.

Now streaming its second season, the show is based on the true story of Hilde Lysiak who, at only nine years of age, broke news of a violent murder case in her own self-published newspaper in Pennsylvania.

Inspired by her father, who was also a journalist, Lysiak started “Orange Street News” at age seven with the catch cry of “The ONLY Newspaper Devoted to Selinsgrove” – her home town.

Hot off the crayon, Lysiak originally wrote the paper all by herself but, with the help of her sister, it would eventually grow to include a Facebook page, YouTube channel and a website that erupted in popularity.

It’d be 2016 when she got her break.

While chasing a local vandalism case, she overheard the police chief leaving the station to attend a murder scene a few blocks from her house, one which she also rushed to.

She compiled a report on the scene that cried out "EXCLUSIVE: MURDER ON NINTH STREET" and made a video featuring quotes from police and neighbours.

All of Hilde’s reporting was factually correct, but that didn’t stop backlash firing up, telling her she should be playing with dolls and teacups, and that her parents should not be letting her “pretend to be a journalist”, especially at a violent crime scene.

Hilde quickly fired back.

“I don't think people should be able to decide for me who I should be and what I should be doing,” she said in a follow up Youtube video.

“I never began my newspaper so that people would think I was cute. I started the 'Orange Street News' to give people the information they need to know... I want to be taken seriously. There, is that cute enough for you?”

Of course, the whole thing made Lysiak and her family internationally famous. 

She’s the youngest member of the Society of Professional Journalists, likely the youngest person to ever give a college commencement speech, has multiple book deals and now, of course, a polished Apple TV+ series that jumps on the fame train.

And while the show borrows heavily from the real-life details, the murder case in the plot is fictionally embellished to squeeze more episodes out of the winning premise.

Regardless, both the series and the real-life story make a full-course meal of food for thought on modern journalism and news circulation.

TO another streaming highlight this month, over on Amazon Prime Video is “Whiplash”, a film that’d be easy to mistake for a horror movie when reading the instructions that director Damien Chazelle gave to star JK Simmons during the shoot.

"I want you to take it past what you think the normal limit would be. I don't want to see a human being on-screen any more. I want to see a monster, a gargoyle, an animal,” said Chazelle.

But “Whiplash” is a story about a music teacher, a brutal yet brilliant artist who is willing to push a young drumming prodigy (Miles Teller) to his emotional and psychological extremes in order to unlock his true talent.

As if the acting wasn’t amazing enough as it is, the young Teller was actually playing the drums in many of the incredibly difficult and technical songs.

Talk about some young achievers this week. A teenage musical prodigy and a nine-year-old journalist. When I was nine I think I was still chasing my dream to become a dinosaur.


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Ian Meikle, editor