Mr Hank Klibanoff

  • Member of the 2007 winning team, History category
  • Former managing editor for news, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Winning project: The book, The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle and the Awakening of a Nation, explores news coverage of the civil rights movement in the South

Hank Klibanoff grew up in Alabama witnessing the evolution of race relations there. Those experiences, along with his 35 years as a newspaper reporter and editor, not to mention his years as a newspaper delivery boy, were key influences as he co-wrote The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle and the Awakening of a Nation. The book won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for history.

Klibanoff, who was managing editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution until the summer of 2008, is now managing editor of the Cold Case Truth and Justice Project, which uses investigative reporting to dig out the truth behind unsolved racial murders that took place during the civil rights era in the South. The project, led by the Center for Investigative Reporting, is using reporters, filmmakers, multimedia experts, public interest advocacy groups, lawyers and archivists to fill in history's huge gaps, to correct its myths and to bring exposure, reconciliation and, where possible, criminal prosecution.

The Race Beat, written by Klibanoff and Gene Roberts, former editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer and former managing editor of The New York Times, explores news coverage of the civil rights movement in the South. The book looks at the impact and involvement of the black press, the Northern press, the Southern liberal and segregationist press, television and photojournalism from the 1930s through the late 1960s.

The book also won the Goldsmith Book Prize awarded by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and was a finalist for the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award. It received the Book of the Year Award from the American Journalism Historians Association; and the Frank Luther Mott Book Research Award given by the National Honor Society in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Klibanoff left the South in 1967 to attend Washington University in St. Louis at a time when the campus was bubbling with activism. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in English, Klibanoff received his masters at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He was recently named to the Medill Hall of Achievement and received a distinguished alumni award from Washington University.

While in college, he worked for his hometown newspaper in Alabama, then began his reporting career in earnest in 1972 in Mississippi, where, for more than five years, he was the state capitol bureau in Jackson for the Sun-Herald on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the Delta Democrat Times in Greenville.

In 1978, Klibanoff took a year to backpack and freelance in Europe and the Middle East, then joined The Boston Globe as a reporter. In 1982, he moved to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Two years later, he was named the Inquirer’s national correspondent in the Midwest, based in Chicago and was responsible for a 12-state region. He covered a wide range of stories, including the administration of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, but his main focus was the catastrophic farm economy that wiped out a large number of family farms, led to bankruptcies, foreclosures and suicides, and crushed the vitality of rural towns in the Midwest.

He returned to Philadelphia to take on a variety of editing jobs – national, metro, business, sports, Sunday -- before being named deputy managing editor. For six years, Klibanoff taught urban journalism at the University of Pennsylvania. He was also a fellow at the Freedom Forum’s Media Studies Center at Columbia University.

He joined The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as managing editor for news in October 2002 and served there until resigning in the summer of 2008.

He serves as a board member of the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism, administered by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is chairman of the board of VOX Teen Communications, an Atlanta non-profit youth development organization that provides teens an opportunity to write, design and publish a monthly newspaper and helps them develop the skills and resources to express themselves on issues important to them. He has served on the board of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association (and was winner of its 2007 meritorious service award).

Klibanoff and his wife Laurie have three daughters.

Hank's masterpieces

Hong Kong Baptist University