He graduated from Coffee High School in Florence and attended Washington University in Saint Louis, where he studied under Howard Nemerov and received his Bachelor of Arts in English.
He got an early start in journalism delivering newspapers by bicycle. He studied journalism at the Medill School of Northwestern University. He was managing editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution until June 24, 2008, when he stepped down.
He had been deputy managing editor for The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 20 years.
He had also been a reporter for six years in Mississippi and three years at The Boston Globe. Klibanoff is currently the director of the journalism program at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as the project managing editor of the Civil Rights Cold Case Project.