Karen Coates

Freelance Print Journalist @karenjcoates @ramblingspoon

Karen Coates is an independent journalist based in New Mexico who reports primarily in the developing world on issues involving the environment, science, food, health and human rights. She has published four books. Her latest, Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos (ThingsAsian Press, 2013), co-authored with her husband, Jerry Redfern, was a finalist for the Investigative Reporters & Editors Book Award. Coates is a Senior Fellow at Brandeis University’s Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, and she was a 2010-11 Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado. She has received fellowships and honors through the Fund for Environmental Journalism, the MIT Knight Science Journalism Program, the Council for Wisconsin Writers and other groups.

En Español

Karen Coates es una periodista independiente, editora y formadora de medios con sede en Nuevo México. Ella se enfoca en temas de desarrollo con miradas hacia la alimentación, el medio ambiente, la ciencia, la salud y los derechos humanos. También ha publicado cuatro libros. Su último libro, Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos, en coautoría con su marido, Jerry Redfern, fue finalista del premio Investigative Reporters & Editors Book Award. Coates es una investigadora principal en el Instituto Schuster de Periodismo de Investigación de la Universidad de Brandeis, y fue becaria Ted Scripps en Periodismo Ambiental de la Universidad de Colorado en 2010-11. Sus informes han aparecido en publicaciones como The New York Times, Al Jazeera America, Slate, Archaeology, Ms., NPR.org, National Geographic Books, Best Food Writing 2015 y muchas más. A Coates le encanta cocinar, y fue corresponsal de Asia de la revista Gourmet durante varios años. Su galardonado blog de comida es Rambling Spoon.

Reporting Locations


| Karen Coates

Warming waters hurt Zanzibar’s seaweed. But women farmers have a plan.

Zanzibar’s streets are serene in the dark moments before sunrise, and an amber glow tints the beach. The tide is out, and the air is fresh. A few women head to work, toting sticks on…

| Karen Coates

Crossing the Border as an Unaccompanied Minor

A migrant child watches behind the main door of a shelter in Tapachula, Mexico, where he’s taken a rest during his attempt to reach the border between Mexico and the United States.(Photo: Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images)…

| Karen Coates

Far From Being a Burden, Research Suggests Refugees Come With Benefits

W hen war hit close to home, Veronica Mesiko Simon grabbed a few dishes and a bundle of clothes. With a load on her head, six kids and a mother in tow, she ran for…

| Karen Coates

Here is What a Cut in U.S. Foreign Aid Could Mean for this Woman’s Family

I sat in the dim light of a Christian church with walls of mud and a roof of corrugated metal, as Alaakiir Ajok told her story. This was last September, 19 months after fighting had…

| Karen Coates

Mexican Smuggler Says Trump’s Wall Won’t Stop Him — Here’s Why

  Culture Everything from dogs and blimps to Gamma-ray imaging systems and video surveillance is used to prevent people from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, making the prospect of a wall seem obsolete.  

| Karen Coates

2,300 Miles Away from Washington, Americans on the Border Say a Wall Wont Work

Meet Tony Estrada. He’s the seven-term sheriff of Santa Cruz, a small, rural county in southern Arizona with 50 miles abutting the Mexican border. This county is home to ranches and pastures, and one of…

| Karen Coates

Coping With Tragedy In South Sudan

By: Karen Coates on December 23, 2016 With the threat of mass atrocities looming, Samantha Power earlier this week the UN Security Council to do something about South Sudan. She repeated the words of Secretary…

| Paula Bronstein, Karen Coates

The Onward Struggle: Refugee crisis in Uganda worsens as South Sudanese forced to flee “impending genocide” at home

Photography by Paula Bronstein and Story by Karen Coates for Yahoo News.___ The journey takes days, sometimes weeks, often on foot. The roads are too risky, so they hike through the bush, fleeing gunfire and…

| Karen Coates

South Sudanese Refugees and the Taste of Displacement

Katarin Ladu is tall and thin, with short, curled hair and a face wrinkled by sunshine, age, and worry. She wears a beaded necklace, a mismatched pair of flip-flops, and a long, loose dress with…

| Karen Coates

The Crisis in South Sudan is Sending 2,000 Refugees to Uganda. Every Day

By: Karen Coates on October 12, 2016 Over the past three months, an average of more than 2,000 South Sudanese a day have crossed into Uganda, seeking safety from bloodshed at home. Aid groups and…

| Karen Coates

Health in a Rwandan Hospital Garden

Hospitals have many tools at their disposal. A garden is not typically one of them (not in the healthcare system I am accustomed to in the United States, anyway). When I traveled to Rwanda last…

| Karen Coates

Rwanda is an international development success story. But can it survive climate change?

By: Karen Coates on August 05, 2015 Many international development experts will tell you Rwanda is a modern success. Since the 1994 genocide, the government has instituted policies that have sharply raised living standards nationwide,…

| Karen Coates

How Bicycles Are Helping To Heal Rwanda

Adrien Niyonshuti of Rwanda heads down a field during the men’s mountain bike race in the 2012 Olympics. Bryn Lennon/Getty Images This weekend, Rwanda will host the Africa Mountain Bike Tour, an Olympic-qualifying championship race.…

| Karen Coates

“To Keep You Is No Benefit. To Destroy You Is No Loss.”

Every president has vowed to stop genocide, but not one has ever made it a priority to stop it. What will it take for us to demand that they do? I knew this woman’s face…