Karen Dorn Steele is a former reporter for the Spokesman Review. Since her father was part of the press liaison for the U.S. Information Agency, Steele spent much of her childhood outside of the United States and living abroad in countries such as Morocco.
After she graduated from Stanford University in 1965, she interned for Representative Edith Green of Portland. In 1968, she earned an M.A. in History from the University of California, Berkeley.
She and her husband moved then to Spokane, Washington, where she began her career as a journalist with the Spokesman Review, working as an editorial page writer. From 1973 to 1983, Steele ran a public affairs television program called Spokane Weekly. During her tenure with the Spokesman Review, she broke the story about the Green Run test, in which the U.S. government released radioactive gases in 1949 over areas surrounding the Hanford Site.
Subsequently, she covered the Hanford Downwinder Litigation, in which residents living around the Hanford Site from the 1940s through the 1960s sued the federal government for the health complications, such as cancer, that they suffered from as a result to the exposure to radiation from Hanford.