WBUR Staff

Deborah Becker

Host/Reporter, WBUR

Deborah Becker is a reporter and host at WBUR.  Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.

Deb is also a substitute host on several WBUR programs and helps produce and report for various WBUR special series. Deb also worked on the launch of WRNI, Rhode Island’s NPR News Station, where she served as Morning Edition host and host of the weekly show “Focus Rhode Island.”  Before coming to WBUR, she worked at Monitor Radio, the broadcast arm of The Christian Science Monitor newspaper. Deb has received numerous awards for her hosting, newscasts, reporting, and investigative reporting from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTNDA), Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, National Education Writers Association, Associated Press, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Parent/Professional Advocacy League and United Press International. She also completed several fellowships on addiction, mental health, juvenile justice and journalism and the law.

Deb studied journalism at St. Bonaventure University. She lives with her family in central Massachusetts.

Recent stories

Study Raises Questions About Military Service Causing Chronic Suicidal Tendencies

October 23, 2014

BOSTON — A new study commissioned by the U.S. Army has found that the mental health of soldiers isn’t as different from civilians as the researchers previously thought.

Does Barnstable Need 5 Fire Districts? Proposed Station Reignites Debate

October 23, 2014
"The Hyannis [fire] district works extremely well for the village of Hyannis," says the village's chief, Harold Brunelle. (Deborah Becker/WBUR)

BARNSTABLE, Mass. — A new fire station in the town of Barnstable is raising questions about villages, history and Proposition 2 1/2.

Surgeon General Nominee Murthy Loses Support Of Key Backers

October 22, 2014
Dr. Vivek Murthy (Charles Dharapak/AP/File)

BOSTON — One of the country’s leading medical journals is withdrawing support for a Brigham and Women’s Hospital physician President Obama nominated to become the next surgeon general.

Listen: MGH Chief Of Infectious Disease Discusses Ebola Preparedness

October 16, 2014

BOSTON — How prepared is Massachusetts for Ebola? That was the question during a hearing at the State House Thursday.

Payne & Domke: Mass. Governor’s Race Heats Up

October 09, 2014

BOSTON — WBUR’s political analysts offer their thoughts on the rising tensions between the two frontrunners in the state’s gubernatorial race.

ACLU Finds ‘Racial Bias’ In Boston Police Encounters

October 08, 2014
(Courtesy of the ACLU Massachusetts)

BOSTON — Between 2007 and 2010, 63 percent of Boston police encounters were with blacks. At that time, just 24 percent of the city’s population was black.

Parole Board Chairman Touts Record To Gain Judgeship Nomination

September 25, 2014

BOSTON — As he tries to win confirmation as a superior court judge, Massachusetts Parole Board Chairman Joshua Wall is now touting his record with the parole board.

Northborough Paratrooper Killed In Afghanistan Is Laid To Rest

September 16, 2014
Jackson Gargalianos and his mother, Cheri, watch as the funeral procession for Army Spc. Brian Arsenault, of the 82nd Airborne Division, passes by. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. — Hundreds of mourners gathered in Northborough Tuesday for the funeral of 28-year-old Army Spc. Brian Arsenault, who was killed in Afghanistan earlier this month.

It’s Not Business As Usual In Ferguson, Missouri

August 26, 2014
Ferguson police are visiting businesses in an effort to communicate more. (Deborah Becker)

From barber shops to bike shops, WBUR’s Deborah Becker looks at what the protests have meant for businesses.

Amid Unrest, Boston Leaders Visit Ferguson

August 25, 2014
People march down the street after a standoff with police Monday in Ferguson. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

FERGUSON, Mo. — Religious and community leaders from Boston are among the thousands of people in Ferguson, Missouri, for Michael Brown’s funeral.

Experiment Aims To Help Plymouth Students Find Passions

August 21, 2014
Plymouth North High School student Ethan Medhog, 17, left, works on his mini-motorcycle project with a classmate during the spring. His project continued through the summer. (Shannon Dooling/WBUR)

PLYMOUTH, Mass. — A group of New England schools is looking beyond the classroom for different ways to gauge learning. Plymouth North and South are in that group.

GlobalPost Co-Founder On James Foley’s Alleged Execution

August 20, 2014

BOSTON — Phil Balboni, co-founder and CEO of GlobalPost, a Boston-based international online news site, spoke about the alleged execution of New Hampshire native and journalist James Foley.

Reverend: Boston Policing ‘Very Different From Ferguson’

August 19, 2014
A man is lead away by police during a protest Monday in Ferguson, Mo. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

BOSTON — The Rev. Jeffrey Brown discusses his conversation with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder about the situation in Ferguson, Mo., where protesters and police clashed again Monday night.

Documentarian Discusses Legacy Of Troubles At Bridgewater Hospital

August 18, 2014
Frederick Wiseman, in 2011 (Jonathan Short/AP)

BOSTON — Fred Wiseman’s 1957 documentary,” Titicut Follies,” chronicled mistreatment at Bridgewater State Hospital.

As Mass. Lawmakers Take Up Addiction Bill, What’s Most Effective Treatment?

July 29, 2014
Hydrocodone pills, also known as Vicodin. (Toby Talbot/AP)

As Massachusetts lawmakers take up the $20 million bill aimed at addressing the state’s opioid crisis, questions about the best treatments remain.

How Addiction Can Affect Brain Connections

July 10, 2014

A growing body of research shows that addiction is a complex brain disease that affects people differently. But the research also raises hopes about potential treatments.

Could Medical Marijuana Help Stem The Opiate Addiction Crisis?

June 11, 2014
medical marijuana sign

BOSTON — Marijuana is touted as a treatment for chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and anxiety — and some say it may be a way to help alleviate Massachusetts’ opiate crisis. But that idea is causing some tension in the addiction treatment community.

Dookhan Was Drug Lab’s ‘Sole Bad Actor,’ Report Says

March 04, 2014
Annie Dookhan, in late 2012 (Steven Senne, Pool/AP)

BOSTON — “However … deficiencies at the Drug Lab created an atmosphere that allowed for [Annie] Dookhan to commit her crimes,” the state inspector general wrote in his review.

Boston Doctor Chosen For New National Effort To Reform Forensic Testing

February 21, 2014

BOSTON — With the Massachusetts Inspector General expected to release his report on the state drug lab crisis any day now, a local doctor is part of a new national effort to reform forensic testing.

How Mass. Should Deal With Convictions Affected By Dookhan

January 10, 2014
Annie Dookhan leaves Suffolk Superior Court after being arraigned Dec. 20, 2012. (Joe Spurr/WBUR)

BOSTON — Matt Segal of the Massachusetts ACLU discusses the criminal cases that linger as the state investigates the drug lab scandal.

ACLU Asks Mass. High Court For ‘Comprehensive Remedy’ For Drug Lab Cases

January 09, 2014

The court is again being asked for guidance on how to deal with criminal convictions thrown into question by the state drug lab crisis.

Forensic Testing A Problem In Several States

December 31, 2013

Congress could take up legislation in 2014 aimed at improving oversight of the nation’s crime labs. Critics say lawmakers need to take action after several lab scandals.

Reviewing The Annie Dookhan Drug Lab Crisis

December 26, 2013

WBUR’s Deborah Becker, who has been reporting on the drug lab scandal all year, looks back on the case and at the unresolved legal ramifications of chemist Annie Dookhan’s actions.

Dookhan’s Lawyer: She Had A ‘Lapse In Judgment’

November 29, 2013

Convicted former chemist Annie Dookhan has never spoken publicly about the drug lab crisis. We speak with her lawyer, now that she’s in prison.

Forensic Testing Questions Remain After Dookhan Sentence

November 23, 2013

Former chemist Annie Dookhan began her first full day in prison Saturday, but lingering questions persist about state oversight of forensic testing.

Dookhan Pleads Guilty, Gets 3-5 Years In Prison

November 22, 2013
Annie Dookhan, in late 2012 (Steven Senne, Pool/AP)

Disgraced former state chemist Annie Dookhan is on her way to prison for a drug lab crisis that’s created turmoil throughout the Massachusetts criminal justice system.

Mass. General Hospital Launches Addiction Research Center

October 31, 2013

BOSTON — Some of the area’s leading addiction researchers and clinicians are joining together to try to help people struggling with addiction and substance use disorders.

Date Set For Dookhan To Change Plea

October 29, 2013

BOSTON — A former state chemist is expected to plead guilty to charges of falsifying thousands of drug tests and throwing the entire Massachusetts criminal justice system into a tailspin.

Portraits Of Boston: A Different Way To See Strangers

August 09, 2013
portraits of boston

BOSTON — Photographer Ivan Velinov says he looks for interesting Bostonians who look open to sharing their stories on his blog Portraits of Boston.

Beloved Garden At Center Of Children’s Hospital Building Dispute

July 25, 2013
Prouty Garden, at Boston Children’s Hospital (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

BOSTON — Prouty Garden has been a sanctuary for stressed families, sick children and hospital staff since 1956. But Boston Children’s Hospital says it needs to expand, and is promising more green space overall. It’s a battle over emotional ground.

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