By: Leslie Lestinsky
Ken Klimek: I am the advisor for the Preface and have been for a number of years. I teach, in the School of the Arts, journalism classes, primarily focusing on print. Starting this year, I’m doing a project for the School of Business that matches 25 of the better business students with executives around town for a school-year-long mentoring program.
Leslie Lestinsky: Where did you get your degree from and what do you have your degree in?
Klimek: My degree is in management and administration from IU South Bend.
Lestinsky: I know you have a background with the South Bend Tribune. Is that correct?
Klimek: Yes, I worked there three years part-time and 28 years full-time in a variety of capacities, starting as a sports writer, assistant sports editor. And my last 15 to 20 years there was as assistant managing editor.
Lestinsky: How did you come into that position without a journalism degree?
Klimek: I am a dinosaur, and I don’t know that it would be possible in today’s world. I was actually teaching at a parochial junior high, expecting to be drafted into the army back when the draft was en vogue and had an opportunity to teach. While I was teaching, I walked down to the Tribune to see if there were any possibilities on the TV side. They ended up offering me a part-time job in sports on the newspaper side. It worked out well. Today, that opportunity might not exist.
Lestinsky: That’s obviously a change that you’ve seen in the world of journalism. What other changes have you seen come and go in the world of journalism?
Klimek: Huge changes, especially digital and visual and social media related. The print product has survived and will survive and is still a staple in most communities. But people have tons of options where and when to get the news and to get the kind of news they want.
Lestinsky: Do you read the newspaper?
Klimek: I do.
Lestinsky: Which ones do you read?
Klimek: I read, of course, our Preface and the South Bend paper. I read the Chicago Tribune when I have an opportunity.
Lestinsky: What is your favorite section or feature of those publications?
Klimek: It’s probably an even split. I get most of my national, international from television. There’s not a lot of that in the local paper anyway. But growing up as a sports writer, that’s a section that I go through regularly. And, like most members of our community, I’m interested in local news.
Lestinsky: Tell me about some interesting stories you covered in your time with journalism.
Klimek: One of the ones that I talk about a lot, even to students here. I was assigned as a sports writer to cover a world series in Detroit a number of years back. It was before the new Tiger Stadium was built. The Tigers won. I went down to the locker room, avoided all the champagne spraying, came back up. It was an open-air press box back then. There were probably a hundred or more writers writing on their laptops or whatever devices they had at the time. We heard this monstrous ruckus outside and were actually called to come watch. We were able to climb onto the roof of old Tiger Stadium. There was a very violent, brutal riot going on. It started as a celebration. It wasn’t a racial thing. It was probably an alcohol-induced thing. Police were beating people with their batons. Bricks were going through business windows. We were actually unable to leave for a couple of hours. The bus to press headquarters was in the basement of the stadium. I was with a man from the Fort Wayne newspaper. When we did leave, we both decided that the bigger story was obviously what happened outside the stadium. So we filed our baseball story as quickly as possible and spent most of the night trying to gather information on the riot. That was one example.
Lestinsky: Did you say what year that was?
Klimek: I did not. It was 1984.
Lestinsky: So you’re not really a dinosaur?