Karen Brown

Reporter/Producer/Host

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.

She lives with her husband Sean in Northampton, Massachusetts, where they are occasionally visited by their college-aged children.

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

State legislators in western Massachusetts are turning up the pressure for more COVID-19 testing, but they don’t all necessarily agree on how that should be done.

The Bridge of Names, in Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts, after storm damage.
Karen Brown / NEPM

A walking bridge in western Massachusetts was badly damaged in an autumn storm, but the town doesn’t own the land under it. So residents have banded together to take on the project — for its practical and historical value.

RN Alyssa Anderson administers a COVID-19 test at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford in March 2020.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public / NENC

With virus rates rising across the state and the holidays looming, western Massachusetts residents who want to get a COVID test are often waiting in hours-long lines, if they can get one at all.

James Watson, who was freed from prison after 41 years.
Courtesy of Attorney Barbara Munro

A Massachusetts man imprisoned for four decades on murder charges is free, now that a judge granted him a new trial and the district attorney dropped all charges. 

Roy Saigo is interim president at Westfield State University in Westfield, Massachusetts.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com

Westfield State University has spent years in leadership crises.

The elf display at the 2019 Bright Nights at Forest Park event, one of the projects that traditionally uses inmate labor.
Hoang (Leon) Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department said it may pause its practice of lending out inmates for community labor if COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Talbert Swan, president of the Springfield NAACP.
Douglas Hook / MassLive

Two community groups in Springfield, Massachusetts, are renewing calls for the mayor to fire the city police commissioner, following a scathing federal report last summer. 

Thomas Rosa - at his arrest in 1985 and after his release in 2020.
Courtesy of the New England Innocence Project.

A Massachusetts man who spent 34 years in prison for murder has been sent home while his lawyers fight for his exoneration.

Foreclosure sign.
Niall Kennedy / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/35034351734@N01

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has proposed a $171 million plan to help people stay in their homes after the state’s eviction ban expires on Saturday.

Town Hall in Amherst, Massachusetts.
John Phelan / Creative Commons / commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Faolin42

With Amherst, Massachusetts, in the state’s COVID-19 red zone, the town manager says the numbers don’t reflect nuances in the population. 

COVID-19 testing at the Mullins Center at UMass Amherst.
Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

UMass Amherst will likely do considerably more COVID-19 testing of students and staff than originally announced — at a considerable cost.

Dana Nestor and Nina Fernandes at their new Northampton, Massachusetts, house.
Karen Brown / NEPR

Home buying and selling slowed down in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, but realtors in western Massachusetts say the market has picked up. 

Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood.
Greg Saulmon / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Springfield, Massachusetts, officials say they've been making changes in the police department in response to a scathing report by the U.S. Department of Justice.

From "How To Be A Person" by Catherine Newman.
Karen Brown / NEPM

"How to Be A Person" takes readers through dozens of basic skills they should learn before they’re grown up – from doing the laundry and tying knots, to writing thank-you notes and managing money. 

School buses lined up.
Chris Devers / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/cdevers

A new study finds that Black girls in Massachusetts public schools are disciplined at a much higher rate than white girls — about four times as often.

Ann Becker of UMass gives direction on how to administer a COVID-19 test at the Mullins Center.
Adam Frenier / NEPM

Carly O'Connell is excited to go back to UMass as a sophomore in legal studies. She'll be among about a thousand students allowed to live on campus — some are taking hands-on classes, and others, like O’Connell, got special permission for personal reasons.

In this photo from March 2020, Hampshire County Sheriff Patrick Cahillane talked about measures to reduce exposure to the new coronavirus at the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction.
Kevin Gutting / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com/photos

The Hampshire County jail hasn’t reported any covid-19 cases since May, but the sheriff said he’s concerned about possible new cases when normal court activity resumes.

The Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction in Northampton, Massachusetts.
File Photo / The Republican / Masslive.com/photos

The Hampshire County Sheriff's Office in Northampton, Massachusetts, will furlough 77 staff members to comply with state budget cuts.

Author Andrea Hairston.
Micala Sidora / Courtesy Andrea Hairston

In her creative life, Andrea Hairston covers a lot of ground. She teaches theater and Africana studies at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She’s a playwright, theater director, screenwriter and novelist. 

Hairston’s forthcoming book, "Master of Poisons," is a fantasy novel about a world facing destruction. 

The gates of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.
File Photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette

Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, had planned to bring a reduced number of students back to campus for the fall semester, and give faculty the choice of teaching online or in person. In a reversal, the college now says it will offer only distance learning.

A health care worker places a cotton swab into a vile after taking a sample from someone being tested for COVID-19 last month at a drive-through testing area at Somerville Hospital.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Summer travel has increased the demand for COVID-19 testing in Massachusetts, which means less capacity and longer waits for results.

Schoolwork.
Jimmie / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/jimmiehomeschoolmom

As school districts in Massachusetts submit their fall proposals to the state, many parents are coming up with their own contingency plans. 

Classroom chairs.
maxpixel.net / Creative Commons

Some staff at a Holyoke, Massachusetts, school for special needs students are alarmed that they’ve been called back into the building for in-person instruction; they don’t believe it’s safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, or beneficial to students.

The UMass Amherst campus.
Rhobite / Creative Commons / en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Rhobite

The town manager for Amherst warns that the influx of UMass students in the fall could spread COVID-19 in a town that, up until now, has had relatively few cases. He's asking the university to change its reopening plan to avoid making things worse.

Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood.
Greg Saulmon / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Springfield, Massachusetts, city and police officials have responded to a scathing government report that charges the narcotics bureau with a pattern of excessive force with no accountability.

Students in STCC's automotive technology program, which is slated to close.
Ramiro Soares

Faculty members at Springfield Technical Community College are protesting the elimination of seven entire programs, most of them vocational.

Turners Falls, Massachusetts.
File Photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

Some residents of Turners Falls, Massachusetts, want to change the name of their village to one they consider more respectful.

Turners Falls was named after Captain William Turner, thought to have led a 17th century battle that killed more than 100 members of the Nipmuc Nation tribe.

A crew from Archaeological and Historical Services Inc. works at one of two dig sites near North King Street in Northampton on Oct. 2, 2019.
Kevin Gutting / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

A Native American tribe is calling out opponents to a traffic roundabout in western Massachusetts for being "misleading."

Naomi London of Northampton, Massachusetts, survived a serious case of COVID-19.
Courtesy of Naomi London

While some parts of the country are seeing surges in COVID-19, cases in Massachusetts are down — but not gone. So, with the governor's reopening plan underway, early survivors of the virus are hoping their experience will convince others to be cautious.

Providence Hospital in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
Hoang 'Leon' Nguyen / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Providence Hospital in Holyoke, Massachusetts — owned by Mercy Medical Center — is planning to close all its inpatient psychiatric beds on Tuesday despite concerns from the state and criticism from staff.

Pages