When Hillsdale Collegian City News Editor Stefan Kleinhenz first came to Hillsdale, he was excited.
“I came to Hillsdale with the feeling of endless opportunity,” Kleinhenz said.
Having enjoyed both oral and written communication in high school, he was excited Hillsdale offered a college newspaper and radio station and he got started during his first semester freshman year.
While Kleinhenz says that he was interested in the big news and opinions at first, his outlook toward hard news has shifted over time.
“Those things are very temporary,” he said. “They’re gone in a snap of the finger.”
Since then, Stefan says he has realized the importance of features.
“Features last longer,” he said. “They like you’re making more of a difference.”
One way he has implemented his understanding in the way he runs the city news section, utilizing feature stories to add substance and increase “shelf life.”
“Especially for a weekly paper, it’s hard to do just straight news because you could write the story on Monday and it doesn’t matter by Thursday,” he said.
Kleinhenz said he appreciated the importance of city news, especially with the myriad elections this year.
“It makes our paper unique,” he said. “Most colleges don’t have a city news section. People in town wait every Thursday morning for the section to come out because they want to read it.”
A lot of Stefan’s changing perspectives have come from his internship experiences, he remarked.
Last fall, Stefan participated in the Washington-Hillsdale Internship Program, where he landed another internship with One America, writing a couple of stories during the weekdays and as a live reporter on weekends.
“It was challenging work on the ground,” he said. “D.C. isn’t Hillsdale.”
After just six weeks back on campus last semester, COVID-19 struck. Stefan originally planned to go on a road trip. Nevertheless, he ended up being offered and accepting a full-time job with One America.
Kleinhenz noted that it was different working for D.C. during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was a ghost town,” he said.
During this time, Stefan saw firsthand the dangers of journalism on the ground in D.C. during the early days of the Black Lives Matter protests.
Being among the frontlines of the protests, like the attempted tearing down of the Emancipation statue, he described the scene as “like a war zone.” During his three nights of gathering videos and pictures of the event undercover, he got pepper-sprayed, hit with a paintball, and hit in the back with a rock, which he has held onto to this day.
“It wasn’t scary in the moment,” he said. “But looking back, it was scary.”
Reflecting on his experience in D.C., he has decided he does not want to return to that line of work again.
While he still wants to work in some form of communication, he said he wishes to steer clear of D.C. and journalism.
“It takes a toll on you,” he said. “You really can’t be around that and not let it affect you. It hurts your heart and your soul.”
Here at Hillsdale, however, he is still fully invested in journalism on campus.
In addition to his work for the Collegian, he hosts a radio show on Thursday morning, where he and a friend talk about politics “from a good arm’s length,” along with sports and other fun subjects.
Unlike journalism in D.C., “It’s light-hearted,” he said. “It doesn’t hurt your soul.”