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.

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

Share of Massachusetts residents (in red on the right of each pair in the chart) and legislators (in blue, on the left of each pair) by race/ethnicity, 2018.
National Conference of State Legislatures / U.S. Census Bureau / MassINC

A new report shows that women and people of color are hugely underrepresented in Massachusetts state politics.

Michael McCabe, right, concedes the mayoral election to Don Humason, left, at Humason's district office in Westfield.
Karen Brown / NEPR

The Westfield, Massachusetts, mayor’s race appears to be over.

Michael McCabe, at left, and state Senator Don Humason, at right.
McCabe: Greg Saulmon / Humason: Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Michael McCabe says he plans to ask for a recount in the Westfield, Massachusetts, mayoral election after Tuesday's unofficial results put him 97 votes behind Don Humason — out of almost 10,000 total votes.

Police cruisers in Springfield, Massachusetts.
File photo / The Republican / masslive.com

The Springfield, Massachusetts, police department has gone through some high-profile scandals in the last few years. But while investigators have focused on police misconduct on the job, one claim has not made the same headlines.

Westfield State University in Westfield, Massachusetts.
Karen Brown / NEPR

Westfield State University has gone through a fair amount of leadership drama in recent years.

Gwen Johnson, left, a Kentucky-based member of "Hands Across The Hills," meets Leverett residents.
Karen Brown / NEPR

A culture-crossing project borne of the 2016 election met for the third time this past weekend in Leverett, Massachusetts.

A flu shot being administered.
Lance McCord / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/mccord

A UMass Amherst health researcher is getting $3 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help predict flu outbreaks in a more practical way.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks during her conversation with Amherst College President Biddy Martin on Oct. 3, 2019.
Jerrey Roberts / Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com

A month after going through cancer treatment, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg appeared in fine form at Amherst College on Thursday. In front of about 1,600 people, she analyzed high-profile legal decisions and cracked jokes about gender discrimination.

Mark Schand scoops ice cream at his Sweetwater smoothie cafe in New Britain, Connecticut.
Karen Brown / NEPR

A Connecticut man who was wrongfully imprisoned for 27 years said he’s delighted by the verdict in his lawsuit against four Springfield, Massachusetts, police officers — but not for the reason you might think.

In Feb. 2015, U.S. astronaut Terry Virts shows off his "space cheeseburger" while taking a lunch break during preparations for an upcoming spacewalk. The concoction was made up of beef paddies, cheese, tomato paste and Russian mustard on a tortilla wrap.
NASA Johnson / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/29988733@N04

UMass researchers are helping NASA predict how fast its astronauts' food will lose nutritional value. This could be especially important on long space flights, including any future trips to Mars.

Leavitt Family Jewish Home in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, reported 66 deaths so far from the coronavirus.
The Republican / masslive.com/photos

The state auditor is criticizing the Massachusetts public health department for taking too long to investigate elder abuse claims at nursing homes.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has placed ads about problem gambling on buses and social media.
Karen Brown / NEPR

The 2011 casino law in Massachusetts required the state to help address problem gambling. About a year after MGM Springfield opened, health leaders say programs are rolling out.

Measles vaccine.
Matthew Lotz / U.S. Air Force

Researchers at UMass Amherst say it's unclear whether requiring vaccines in schools directly increases the number of children who get them.

Scott Lively speaks at the 2018 Massachusetts Republican Convention in Worcester.
Sam Doran / State House News Service

Scott Lively — an anti-gay pastor in Springfield, Massachusetts, who tried to unseat Governor Charlie Baker — has announced he's leaving the state to open a bible college.

Author Scott Brown.
Danielle Tait / Courtesy Scott Brown

Two of author Scott Brown’s colleagues had an idea for a story, but no time to write it, so they offered him the project. He’s usually a television writer and producer.

Springfield Public Day School.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

A federal court has upheld a decision to throw out a lawsuit filed on behalf of students with disabilities in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Anne Frank's 1942 passport photo.
Anne Frank House, Amsterdam / Public domain

The new novel "Annelies" retells the story of Anne Frank, the young Holocaust victim whose childhood diary became one of the most poignant records of the Nazi era.

Emma Cummings and Fred Freeman on the Gulfside Trail at Mount Jefferson in New Hampshire in July 1902.
Courtesy Allison Bell

In 1902, two middle-aged women organized a hiking trip through the White Mountains of New Hampshire, which were at the time under threat from logging and fires.

In this photo from January 1997, Michael Kittredge II stood beside a Porsche Speedster owned by comedian Jerry Seinfeld. It was on display in the Yankee Candle Car Museum.
File photo / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Michael Kittredge II, the founder of Yankee Candle Company in South Deerfield, Massachusetts, has died after several years of failing health.

Ed Asner and Tovah Feldshuh in "The Soap Myth."
Burke Cohen Entertainment

"The Soap Myth" is a play about a Holocaust survivor and his crusade to have a say in history. It's capping off a national tour with a performance Monday at the Williamstown Theater Festival in the Berkshires. (Note: this story contains disturbing details about the Holocaust.)

A Hampshire Hope coalition meeting addressed Section 35, the legal process in Massachusetts through which people who abuse drugs or alcohol to a dangerous degree can be committed to treatment against their will.
Karen Brown / NEPR

People with addiction in Massachusetts can be forced into treatment by a legal process that some feel is unnecessarily punitive. At a community meeting Friday, health advocates and those in the criminal justice system had a range of perspectives on how that should change.

Leora Brown with her son Jackson. She had deliberated whether to vaccinate her children.
Karen Brown / NEPR

As outbreaks of measles continue across the country, public health leaders are doubling down on the importance of childhood vaccination.

Sonja Farak is led from Hampshire Superior Court in 2014 after pleading guilty and getting sentenced to charges of tampering with drug evidence while she worked at the state lab in Amherst.
Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com/photos

Advocates for the wrongfully convicted are applauding charges against three assistant attorneys general connected to a drug lab scandal in western Massachusetts.

A plastic bag from the pharmacy chain CVS.
Karen Brown / NEPR

Environmental activists are livid about revisions to a plastic bag bill in Massachusetts, made by a legislative committee, that they say is worse than doing nothing.

Joe Gratz / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/joegratz

A judge in Springfield, Massachusetts, has released two criminal defendants from jail because they have not been given a state-funded defense lawyer.

A bottle of oxycodone painkillers.
Cindy Shebley / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/cindyshebley/

A man from South Deerfield, Massachusetts, has been indicted for selling potentially deadly, counterfeit painkillers in Kansas.

UMass Amherst food science professor Julian McClements, next to a 3D food printer.
Karen Brown / NEPR

There's a lot of debate about the safety and value of food that's been processed, from genetic modification to nutritional enhancement.

Joe Gratz / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/joegratz

A Massachusetts man convicted of a 1979 rape and murder in Milford is asking for a new trial, based largely on DNA evidence.

Matt Lorenz, aka The Suitcase Junket, plays in his home in Leverett, Massachusetts.
Karen Brown / NEPR

The Suitcase Junket is a one-man band that defies neat categorization.

Slot machines at the MGM casino in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Karen Brown / NEPR

With MGM in talks to buy a casino in eastern Massachusetts and leave Springfield, local and state leaders insist they will have a significant say in how and whether that happens.