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Karen Springen

Karen Springen

Lecturer and Journalism Residency Director

Karen Springen directs Medill's Journalism Residency program, is the graduate journalism Magazine Specialization leader, and teaches undergraduate and graduate reporting and writing classes. She advises several student groups and serves as chair of the student affairs committee for the university’s Faculty Senate. 

Springen spent 24 years at Newsweek, where, as a correspondent, she reported on stories about a wide range of topics, including AIDS, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, the 1996 Olympics, breast implants, Botox, gluten-free diets and “The Hunger Games.” Over the years, she has published pieces in Publishers Weekly, Reader’s Digest, School Library Journal, Chicago magazine, Chicago Tribune, Stanford Magazine, Crain’s Chicago Business, Elle, Marie Claire, Delta Sky, House & Garden, Parents, Booklist,, and other magazines, websites and newspapers.

Springen likes to help students learn how to write thoroughly reported stories that make readers say, “Wow! I didn’t know that!” She shares her own teacher’s advice: “Take that extra step. Make that extra call.” With her students, she analyzes how the best journalists write pitch letters, profiles, service stories, Q&As, essays, reviews and features. She also invites writers and editors from magazines such as GQ, Details, Real Simple, New York and Entertainment Weekly to visit her classes in person or by Skype.

In recent years, Springen has reported most often about family, health, education and the publishing industry. In 2014, for example, she wrote about e-book piracy for Publishers Weekly, healthcare reform for the Chicago Tribune, girl-friendly tech programs for School Library Journal, ways people unintentionally hurt their hearing for and mental health in the workplace for Crain’s. She also reviewed dozens of health books, including Ezekiel Emanuel’s Reinventing American Healthcare, for the American Library Association’s Booklist.

Springen belongs to the Journalism and Women Symposium and the Association of Health Care Journalists. For more than three decades, she has written the class of 1983 column for the Stanford Magazine. Recently she completed a five-year term as a board member of the Stanford Alumni Association. 


Springen holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Stanford University, where she was editor-in-chief of The Stanford Daily, and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.