Tovia Smith

Tovia Smith is an award-winning NPR News National Desk correspondent based in Boston.

For the last 25 years, Smith has been covering news around New England and beyond. She's reported extensively on the debate over gay marriage in Massachusetts and the sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church, including breaking the news of the Pope's secret meeting with survivors.

Smith has traveled to New Hampshire to report on seven consecutive Primary elections, to the Gulf Coast after the BP oil spill, and to Ground Zero in New York City after the September 11, 2001 attacks. She covered landmark court cases — from the trials of British au pair Louise Woodward, and abortion clinic gunman John Salvi, to the proceedings against shoe bomber Richard Reid.

Through the years, Smith has brought to air the distinct voices of Boston area residents, whether reacting to the capture of reputed Mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger, or mourning the death of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy.

In all of her reporting, Smith aims to tell personal stories that evoke the emotion and issues of the day. She has filed countless stories on legal, social, and political controversies from the biggies like abortion to smaller-scale disputes over whether to require students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in classrooms.

With reporting that always push past the polemics, Smith advances the debate with more thoughtful, and thought-provoking, nuanced arguments from both –or all— sides. She has produced award-winning broadcasts on everything from race relations in Boston, adoption and juvenile crime, and has filed several documentary-length reports, including an award-winning half-hour special on modern-day orphanages.

Smith took a leave of absence from NPR in 1998, to launch Here and Now, a daily news magazine produced by NPR Member Station WBUR in Boston. As co-host of the program, she conducted live daily interviews on issues ranging from the impeachment of President Bill Clinton to allegations of sexual abuse in Massachusetts prisons, as well as regular features on cooking and movies.

In 1996, Smith worked as a radio consultant and journalism instructor in Africa. She spent several months teaching and reporting in Ethiopia, Guinea, and Tunisia. Smith filed her first on-air stories as a reporter for local affiliate WBUR in Boston in 1987.

Throughout her career, Smith has won more than two dozen national journalism awards including the Casey Medal, the Unity Award, a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award Honorable Mention, Ohio State Award, Radio and Television News Directors Association Award, and numerous honors from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Public Radio News Directors Association, and the Associated Press.

She is a graduate of Tufts University, with a degree in international relations.

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5:45pm

Thu March 5, 2015
Law

Many Question Lack Of Plea Deal In Boston Bombing Case

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 6:55 pm

The dramatic admission of guilt by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's defense team in its opening statement Wednesday has generated questions about the trial now underway. Many are wondering why the government wouldn't accept a plea deal in exchange for life in prison, or why Tsarnaev wouldn't want to plead guilty to avoid graphic and disturbing testimony that he's not even contesting.

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5:17pm

Wed March 4, 2015
Law

Boston Marathon Bombing Trial Opens With Admission Of Guilt

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 8:29 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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4:53am

Wed March 4, 2015
Law

Opening Statements To Begin Nearly 2 Years After Boston Bombing

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 7:52 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

4:41pm

Mon January 26, 2015
U.S.

Accused Bomber's Lawyers Say Boston Jury Pool Is Too Biased

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 9:58 pm

A memorial at the site of the first explosion in the Boston Marathon bombing. Defense attorneys say too many people in the potential jury pool have some kind of personal connection to the case.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

The search for jurors in the case of accused Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is taking longer than expected.

Defense attorneys say it's nearly impossible to find open-minded, unbiased jurors around Boston. They're asking yet again for the judge to move the trial somewhere else.

From the beginning, defense attorneys have argued the entire jury pool has been poisoned by what they call "a narrative of guilt" from a "tidal wave" of media coverage. Now, Tsarnaev's lawyers say jurors' own comments on a court questionnaire prove widespread bias.

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5:17pm

Mon January 5, 2015
Law

Potential Jurors Screened For Boston Marathon Bombing Trial

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 6:31 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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3:35am

Mon January 5, 2015
Law

Jury Selection To Begin Monday In Boston Marathon Bombing Trial

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 4:51 pm

The search begins Monday for the jurors who will decide the fate of the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. It was the deadliest act of terrorism in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 attacks, and the trial is one that many have been waiting for.

A couple of dozen survivors are expected in court for at least part of the trial — including Heather Abbott, who lost a leg in the attack. She's hoping for answers to both why and how the bombing was carried out.

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3:46pm

Tue December 16, 2014
Secret Lives Of Teachers

Skating Out Classroom Stress As A 'Derby Dame'

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 2:46 pm

Nina Park, also known as Elle L. Cool Jam, is a member of the Cosmonaughties roller derby team in the Boston Derby Dames league.
Kayana Szymczak for NPR

The NPR Ed team is discovering what teachers do when they're not teaching. Pilot? Artist? Bartender? Explore our Secret Lives of Teachers series.

Every fall, on the first day of school, Nina Park greets her new honors English class with a game called "two truths and a lie." Her students, 10th-graders at TechBoston Academy in Dorchester, Mass. have to guess which is which.

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4:17am

Fri November 21, 2014
A Closer Look At Sexual Assaults On Campus

Colleges Straddle Line Between Assault Prevention And Victim-Blaming

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 1:34 pm

Agent Illustrateur Getty Images/Ikon Images

As efforts increase around the nation to combat campus sexual assault, one aspect of prevention seems to confound schools the most: how to warn students about staying safe — without sounding like they're blaming the victim.

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6:16pm

Wed October 29, 2014
A Closer Look At Sexual Assaults On Campus

To Tackle Sexual Assault Cases, Colleges Enlist Investigators-For-Hire

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 8:44 pm

Djuna Perkins, a former prosecutor, now conducts sexual assault investigations for colleges and universities. She's had to hire three more staff members this year to keep up with all the work.
Tovia Smith NPR

As colleges continue to scramble under federal pressure to overhaul how they handle cases of sexual assault, the list of schools under investigation for botching cases continues to grow.

That's left some wondering if campuses will ever get it right, or if they might be better off leaving the job to others.

A growing number of campuses already have made the choice to do just that: Rather than try to train their provosts and professors to act like prosecutors, they're outsourcing the job to real ones instead.

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6:54pm

Wed October 15, 2014
A Closer Look At Sexual Assaults On Campus

Harvard Law Professors Say New Sexual Assault Policy Is One-Sided

Originally published on Thu October 16, 2014 10:32 am

A group of professors at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass., has slammed the school's new sexual assault policy, saying it gives victims an unfair advantage.
Darren McCollester Getty Images

Just a few months after Harvard University announced a new, tougher policy against campus sexual assault, a group of Harvard law professors is blasting the rules as unfair.

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3:31am

Wed September 3, 2014
A Closer Look At Sexual Assaults On Campus

Some Accused Of Sexual Assault On Campus Say System Works Against Them

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 1:12 pm

iStockphoto

After years of criticism for being too lax on campus sexual assault, some colleges and universities are coming under fire from students who say the current crackdown on perpetrators has gone too far.

Dozens of students who've been punished for sexual assault are suing their schools, saying that they didn't get a fair hearing and that their rights to due process were violated. The accused students say schools simply are overcorrecting.

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6:02pm

Tue August 12, 2014
A Closer Look At Sexual Assaults On Campus

How Campus Sexual Assaults Came To Command New Attention

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 11:27 am

President Obama signs a memorandum establishing the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault in January.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Call it a sign of the times that right along with required writing core courses, incoming freshmen at most schools this fall will also face a mandatory crash course on the subject of sexual assault.

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5:33am

Thu July 31, 2014
U.S.

New Bill Aims To Hold Colleges Accountable For Campus Sex Crimes

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 8:12 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

4:28pm

Mon July 21, 2014
Law

Boston Bombing Suspect's Friend Is Convicted On Obstruction Charges

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 11:10 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In Boston today, a friend of the Marathon Bombing suspect was found guilty. He was charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The man is 20 years-old, a college friend of Jahar Tsarnaev. The friend was accused of helping to remove incriminating evidence from his dorm room following the bombings. And Pete Tovia Smith has our story.

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4:40pm

Fri July 18, 2014
Law

After Abortion Ruling, Mass. Pushes To Replace Buffer Zone Law

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 7:54 pm

Anti-abortion protester Eleanor McCullen stands at the painted edge of a 35-foot buffer zone outside a Planned Parenthood location in Boston in December. She says she'll fight Massachusetts' new bill just like she did the last one.
Steven Senne AP

Just three weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law that created a 35-foot buffer zone around clinics that perform abortions, lawmakers there are rushing through a replacement. The new bill, which they hope to pass before the legislative session ends in two weeks, would give police more power to disperse unruly protesters.

The bill has broad support, but opponents say it still goes too far.

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