Tovia Smith

An award-winning correspondent based in Boston, Tovia Smith covers breaking news, as well as a wide range of feature stories on legal issues, politics, and social concerns. Most recently she has reported on the advent of gay marriage in Massachusetts, the sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic church, the ongoing battles around the 9/11 victims' compensation fund, the case against "shoe-bomber" Richard Reid, and the Rhode Island nightclub fire. She has also covered the New Hampshire and Yankee primaries, the trial of British au pair Louise Woodward, the crashes of Egypt Air, John Kennedy, Jr., and TWA flight 800, and the trial of women's clinic gunman John Salvi.

Smith specializes in in-depth features on a variety of social issues. She has produced award-winning reports on mothers raising their babies in prison, race relations in Boston, and juvenile crime. Her coverage of families and the law includes stories about adoption, custody disputes, and same-sex civil unions. She has also filed several documentary-length reports, including an award-winning half-hour special on modern-day orphanages.

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.

In 1998, Smith took a leave of absence to launch Here and Now, a daily news magazine produced by public radio 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.

She is a graduate of Tufts University, where she earned her degree in international relations. She lives with her family near Boston.

Students headed for college this fall can expect a slew of new efforts aimed at preventing campus sexual assault. A federal law that took effect this summer requires schools to offer programs to help raise awareness and lower risk.

It was once a tiny niche market, but it is now an exploding industry with everything from fingernail polish that detects date-rape drugs in drinks to necklaces that hide mini panic buttons — and all kinds of crash courses on how to get and give consent.

Having clinched the long-sought prize of same-sex marriage in all 50 states, some long-time advocates are now waking up to the realization that they need to find a new job. At least one major same-sex marriage advocacy group is preparing to close down and other LGBT organizations are retooling.

They have grown from a ragtag group with a radical idea into a massive multi-million dollar industry of slick and sophisticated sellers of a dream. Today, their very success has made their old jobs obsolete.

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

NPR's Tovia Smith is covering the sentencing phase of the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial in Boston. A jury is weighing whether the 21-year-old convicted in the bombings that killed three people and left 264 others wounded should be put to death for his crimes. Tovia will be tweeting developments as they happen.

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Prosecutors began to make their case today for why convicted bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be sentenced to death. The same jury that convicted him will decide Tsarnaev's fate. NPR's Tovia Smith was in court and she joins us now.

Bostonians marked the second anniversary of the marathon bombing Wednesday, all while awaiting the sentencing phase of convicted bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to begin. The jury must decide on death or life in prison — a fact that hung over the day's events.

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

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The defense rested its case on Tuesday for admitted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after just a few hours of testimony. The defense called four people to testify compared to the 92 called by prosecutors.

Tsarnaev's lawyers have admitted he did what he's accused of doing. Their single aim is to try to cast Tsarnaev as less in charge than his brother Tamerlan — who died while they were running from authorities — and therefore less deserving of the death penalty if it gets to that.

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

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

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.

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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

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.

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

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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.

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

A new study holds up a mirror to America's parents. A researcher at Harvard surveyed 10,000 middle and high school students in 33 different schools around the nation about what they thought their folks cared about most: that they achieve at a high level, that they are happy (defined as "feeling good most of the time"), or that they care for others. Almost 80 percent of youth picked high achievement or happiness as their top choice, while about 20 percent selected caring for others.

Pages