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NEPM Journalist Karen Brown Receives Award from the Association of Health Care Journalists for “Help, Not Handcuffs”

SPRINGFIELD, MA (April 21, 2021) Karen Brown, a senior reporter for New England Public Media, has been recognized by the Association of Healthcare Journalists for her four-part series, “Help, Not Handcuffs,” which explores how police officers and drug users are adapting to “post-overdose outreach,” how the work of recovery coaches fits into the process, and how researchers and policy makers are struggling to judge its effectiveness. Brown was awarded second place in the “public health/small market” category. The series aired in February and March, 2020.

“Karen’s series was so important not just because of what it showed — how an outreach program is helping opioid users and their families — but digging deeper into how difficult it is to gauge whether the program is working,” said NEPM news director, Sam Hudzik. “Karen also spent a lot of time trying to get answers to why other communities, notably Springfield, had not signed on. It was a great work of reporting and I’m thrilled Karen has been recognized with this award.”

According to the Association of Healthcare Journalists’ press release, the Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism recognize the best health reporting in print, broadcast and online media. The contest is run by journalists for journalists and is not influenced or funded by commercial or special-interest groups.

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 Media 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.

“I always appreciate getting to report beyond the numbers,” said Karen. “We’ve heard so many sobering statistics on opioid addiction and overdose deaths, and less so on the ways unlikely partners are trying to make a dent in this overwhelming epidemic. This story also taught me a lot about how incredibly hard recovery can be.”