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Winnipeg girl creates newspaper for her neighbourhood during pandemic

An inquisitive Winnipeg girl has started a newspaper for her block to keep her neighbours informed and connected during the pandemic. 

Hatty Hawthorne, 8, is the sole reporter, editor and publisher of Hatty’s News. She also draws the masthead each week by hand. 

Riding on her scooter, she delivers the paper on a weekly, sometimes monthly, basis to about 40 subscribers in her River Heights neighbourhood. 

Hatty started the newspaper in April with the help of her mom, Tory McNally, whose family started the McNally Robinson bookstore chain. 

For 50 cents an issue, readers can get recipes, jokes and Hatty’s report on things she’s seen while riding through the neighbourhood. Hatty even answers questions sent in to her advice column, such as one from a “dog-less dog lover” who misses being able to pet dogs amid physical distancing rules. 

WATCH | Hatty Hawthorne and her assistant (mom) talk about Hatty’s News:

Hatty Hawthorne is one inquisitive and energetic young woman. She decided to start her own newspaper and has turned into one of the bright spots for her River Heights neighbourhood. 1:38

For that one, Hatty recommends buying a robot dog, or taking advantage of the Winnipeg Humane Society’s staycation program that lets you borrow a dog for a day. 

“People send in messages about what they need to know and then I respond to them,” Hatty said. 

The newspaper features info about things happening around the block, animals Hatty has seen, jokes, recipes and advice. (Darin Morash/CBC)

When the pandemic closed schools and forced everyone to stay home, Hatty started the newspaper as a way to get out of the house and stay busy, McNally said.

“She just needs that human contact and being able to be curious about people,” McNally said. 

Hatty’s mom, Tory McNally, says it’s been awesome to see her daughter bring the neighbourhood together. (Darin Morash/CBC)

Charging a small fee per issue helped Hatty save up to buy a camera. 

Cara Kennedy, who lives just a few houses down from Hatty and her family, said she looks forward to getting her newspaper and the Harriet the Spy aspect it brings to the neighbourhood. (Harriet the Spy is a children’s novel and film about a young aspiring writer.)

“Hatty likes to create little investigations of the neighbourhood and she keeps us all up to date. They’re really funny and super thoughtful,” Kennedy said. 

“It’s really nice just for Hatty, who’s really outgoing, to kind of weave together the neighbourhood. I’ve been able to meet so many neighbours because of Hatty.”

Since Hatty started the newspaper, their mailbox has been flooded with submissions to the advice column and people asking to subscribe, McNally said.

Cara Kennedy looks forward to getting her edition of Hatty’s News every month. (Darin Morash/CBC)

Now Hatty knows more neighbours than she and her husband do. 

“She’s actually met people on the street that we don’t know, so when we walk down the street with Hatty, people say ‘Hi Hatty!’ and we say, ‘Hi, I guess you know my daughter,'” McNally said. 

“So it’s been a nice bringing together of community for sure.”

This story was possible in part thanks to Manitobans who filled out CBC’s survey about acts of kindness they have initiated or experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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