Karen Brown


Karen is a radio and print journalist who focuses on health care, mental health, children’s issues, and other topics about the human condition. She has been a full-time radio reporter for New England Public Radio since 1998. Her features and documentaries have won a number of national awards, including the National Edward R. Murrow Award, Public Radio News Directors, Inc. (PRNDI) Award, Third Coast Audio Festival Award, and the Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize.

Karen’s work has appeared on NPR, in The New York Times, and other outlets. She previously worked as a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer. She earned a Masters of Journalism from the University of California at Berkeley in 1996.

The office of the bishop of the Springfield Catholic Diocese.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

The Springfield Catholic Diocese has suspended its relationship with a youth group after a complaint of inappropriate behavior.

Amilcar Shabazz is a professor of African American Studies at UMass-Amherst. He hopes to be on the new reparations committee.
Carol Lollis / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

The town of Amherst, Massachusetts, is creating a committee to make reparations for those harmed by anti-Black racism. 

Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood.
Hoang "Leon" Nguyen / Springfield Republican / masslive.com

The Springfield, Massachusetts Police Department announced it is eliminating the controversial narcotics unit and starting a new firearms investigation unit.

Psychiatrist Sigmund Freud
Public Domain / https://www.flickr.com/photos/97453745@N02/9273232821

A UMass-Amherst-led study suggests that therapy works best when patient and therapist are carefully matched - even if that means using telemedicine.

The study found that therapists chosen based on their track record in a particular area of mental healthcare, like depression or anxiety, helped their patients more than those chosen for pragmatic reasons, like insurance or location.

Psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms.
Dick Culbert / Wikimedia Commons

One of the newest frontiers in mental health care is psychedelic drugs — like MDMA or psilocybin in magic mushrooms. But, for now, those drugs are illegal and can’t be subscribed.

Charles Stokes of Springfield, Massachusetts, was among those attending a rally on June 9, 2021, to call on Mayor Domenic Sarno to fire Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood.
Karen Brown / NEPM

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is standing by his police commissioner, Cheryl Clapprood, following a rally Wednesday calling for her to be fired.

Springfield, Massachusetts, Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood takes the oath from District Court Judge John Payne during her swearing-in ceremony, in October 2019.
Adam Frenier / NEPM

A group of seniors in Springfield, Massachusetts, are calling for the removal of the city's police commissioner for what they say is her resistance to police reform.

Lucio Perez, at a ceremony marking his departure from sanctuary in an Amherst, Massachusetts, church, on March 13, 2021.
Jill Kaufman / NEPM

Advocates for a Guatemalan man, who was in sanctuary for more than three years in western Massachusetts, say a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision could help him stay in the country.

Razor wire on top of the perimeter fence at the Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow, Massachusetts.
File Photo / The Republican / Masslive

Public interest lawyers are asking the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to force all jails in the state to regularly test inmates and staff for COVID-19, even without symptoms.

Workers, including Clarivel Amy (right), at a mobile vaccination site organized by Holyoke Health Center try to convince people to pull into the parking lot outside the Boys and Girls Club in Chicopee, Massachusetts.
Karen Brown / NEPM

Although Massachusetts has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country, Hampden County has the lowest rate in the state — with major racial and ethnic disparities among who is getting the shot.

 A sign at the Big E grounds in West Springfield, Massachusetts, directs visitors to a COVID-19 vaccination site that opened in April.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com

As Hampden County, Massachusetts, continues to rank poorly in COVID-19 metrics, officials are pushing for more vaccinations.

In this file photo, Tapestry Health employees provide free COVID-19 testing in Springfield and Agawam, Massachusetts.
Douglas Hook / MassLive / MassLive.com/photos

The pandemic has affected every person’s life, but there is consensus that communities of color — especially Black and Hispanic — have been affected the most.

However, in Massachusetts, the data to prove that is hard to pin down.

Mark Sebastian / Creative Commons

No one is experiencing the pandemic in exactly the same way, but we share many common fears and anxieties — even when we’re asleep. As the pandemic goes on, dream experts say the evolution of COVID-19 dreams tells us a lot about our waking life, too.

Northampton, Massachusetts, Police Chief Jody Kasper, kneeling second from left, with protesters demonstrating against police brutality and racism.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

A commission in Northampton, Massachusetts, suggested major changes to the city's policing approach. The police chief is pushing back on some parts — but not all.

Evan Lewis with a picture of his great-grandfather Lent Shaw.
Joyce Skowyra / NEPM

People have been making the case for reparations for Black Americans for decades, and there are signs of forward movement.

Protesters at the police station in Northampton, Massachusetts on June 1, 2020.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

Members of a policing review commission in Northampton, Massachusetts, presented their case to the City Council on Tuesday for a new city department to take on some duties the police do now.

Northampton, Massachusetts, Police Chief Jody Kasper, kneeling second from left, with protesters demonstrating against police brutality and racism.
Alden Bourne / NEPR

A commission in Northampton, Massachusetts, wants a new city department to take on many of the tasks police do now. 

Former Smith College employee Jodi Shaw, who filed a discrimination complaint against the college, has discussed her claims in more than a dozen YouTube videos.
Screen shot / Jodi Shaw's YouTube channel

A former Smith College employee says she has filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination charging a hostile environment for white people on campus.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette is based in Northampton, Mass.
File photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

Updated at 10:59 a.m.

As one of western Massachusetts' major newspapers operates on bare bones, its staff hosted a public forum this week.

Vaccination for COVID-19 takes place at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com

Western Massachusetts legislators are urging patience for those newly-eligible for the vaccine — but they're also frustrated at the state's glitchy rollout.

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered at Baystate Medical Center.
Baystate Health / MassLive / MassLive.com

A coalition of health and community leaders wants Massachusetts to get more vaccines to people of color.

A witness to a 2016 shooting in Springfield, Massachusetts, looks through photos. NEPM has obscured her face.
Screen shot / Police video

Advocates for the wrongly convicted often say they’d much rather prevent mistakes than fix them after years of incarceration. But how to do that is up for debate.


Baystate Health CEO Mark Keroack says the isolation of learning remotely is causing serious psychological stress on children.

Newly released from prison in April 2020, James Watson is flanked by his lawyers, Madeline Weaver Blanchette (left) and Barb Munro.
Courtesy / Barb Munro

In 2011, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court put together a task force of people from all over the criminal justice community.

They studied how eyewitness evidence is used in the courtroom and offered science-based recommendations going forward.

But it left many people who were convicted before the report still in prison.

Witness Gregory Danas (center), a ballistics expert, answers questions from attorney Myles Jacobson (right) during a hearing for Phillip Ayala in Hampden Superior Court in 2015.
Mark M. Murray / The Republican / masslive.com

Scientists have long claimed that eyewitness testimony can be both highly convincing and incredibly unreliable.

Students are allowed to go to the COVID-19 testing site at UMass Amherst's Mullins Center, but the university is warning of possible sanctions for those who continue working off-campus jobs.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com

As UMass Amherst tries to beat back a major COVID-19 outbreak, some students are frustrated by at least one new restriction.

Bishop Talbert Swan, president of the Springfield NAACP.
Douglas Hook / Masslive / masslive.com

Advocates for police reform in Springfield, Massachusetts, say it's time for the federal government to force the police department to be accountable for its actions.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin.
Steph Solis / Masslive / Masslive.com

The Massachusetts secretary of state said he's concerned the Trump administration has sabotaged the census for political reasons.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signs the paid family leave law in 2018.
File Photo / MassLive / MassLive.com/photos

Starting in January, Massachusetts workers are eligible to take paid time off to bond with a new child or to recover from a long illness.

An architect's rendering of the proposed biomass plant in Springfield, Massachusetts.
File / MassLive / MassLive.com

Massachusetts’ two U.S. senators have asked the state to put a stop to a biomass plant in Springfield, at least until the incoming Biden Administration weighs in on the issue.