Claudia Esbenshade

Claudia Esbenshade practically grew up at LNP thanks to her dad, the newspaper’s former national advertising manager. So it’s fitting that someone who started her own journalism career in her teens has spent the past 20 years helping to shape young journalists throughout Lancaster County.

Back in 1997, when teen-oriented sections of the newspaper were considered the wave of the future, Esbenshade was a natural fit to head the new teen-produced Freestyle section of the Intelligencer Journal. She not only had the experience, but she had also studied to be a teacher and loved working with kids.

Over the years, the section has undergone numerous transformations to keep pace with the times, including a name change with the launch of LNP in 2014. Now known as Generation Next, it appears every Sunday as part of the Perspective section. Weekly features might include anything from thought-provoking political commentary to tips on the season’s hottest prom fashions. You’ll also find suggestions for books, blogs, music, TV and movies.

“I enjoy working with teens and giving them a voice that allows them to share their experiences, trends and issues with the public,” Esbenshade says.

We live in an age of social media where readers, especially the young, seem to like their news in smaller, quicker doses. However, Esbenshade finds that many teens want to dig deeper, investigate and address issues.

And the public pays attention.

Although the section is by, for and about teens, Esbenshade often receives feedback from adult readers. By and large, she says, they are impressed.

“The public cares about these young writers,” she says. “They look at them to get a sense of what the future will be.”

Those teens often get a glimpse of their own futures working with Esbenshade. At least a dozen have gone on to pursue journalism careers, including current LNP staff writers John Walk and Lindsey Blest.

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