Karin Steinberger was born December 31, 1967 in Gräfelfing near Munich. She studied sinology and comparative literature, before attending the "Deutsche Journalistenschule" in Munich. In 1991, she started working for Süddeutsche Zeitung where she was employed as an editor for the feature supplement 'SZ am Wochenende'. Since 2000, she also worked as a reporter and editor for SZ's 'Seite 3'. Steinberger won numerous awards for her features. In 2000, she received the "Medienpreis Entwicklungspolitik" for her report on violence against women in Bangladesh and in 2001, she was awarded the "Medienpreis Kinderrechte in der Einen Welt" for her documentary on child trafficking at the Cambodian-Thai border.
The Indian cultural office honored Steinberger with the Gisela-Bonn-Award for her reports on India in 2003. Her essay "Euer Elend kotzt mich an" (2012) about a severely disabled woman garnered her the Karl-Buchrucker-Preis. Karin Steinberger is also a fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
She gave her directing debut with the 90 minute TV documentary "Hunger" (co-directing with Marcus Vetter) about hunger and malnutrition in the world. In 2011, her film was awarded the Robert-Geissenhöfer-Preis. Steinberger and Vetter also worked together on "The Forecaster" (2012-14), a theatrical documentary about Martin Armstrong, who invented a computer model in the early 1980s that was able to predict the progress of the world economy with frightening precision.
Their third project "Das Versprechen – Erste Liebe lebenslänglich" premiered at the Munich film festival in 2016. The international co-production investigates the case of Jens Söring, who was sentenced for life for a double murder in the US (Steinberger has also been reporting on this case for Süddeutsche Zeitung since 2006). In "Das Versprechen – Erste Liebe lebenslänglich" which opened in German movie theaters in October 2016, the filmmakers question Söring's guilt.