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.

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6:08am

Wed July 1, 2015
U.S.

After Supreme Court Decision, What's Next For Gay Rights Groups?

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 3:42 pm

Carlos McKnight waves a flag in support of same-sex marriage outside the Supreme Court.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

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.

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5:44pm

Thu June 4, 2015
Law

Family Of Suspected Terrorist Killed By Boston Police Call For Investigation

Originally published on Thu June 4, 2015 8:50 pm

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5:41pm

Mon May 4, 2015
Law

Boston Marathon Bomber Gets Emotional During Relatives' Testimony

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 2:02 am

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4:22pm

Mon April 27, 2015
Law

Tsarnaev Defense Urges Jury To Spare His Life

Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 8:14 pm

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1:46pm

Thu April 23, 2015
The Two-Way

Live Tweets: Day 3 Of Boston Marathon Bombing Trial's Penalty Phase

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.

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4:42pm

Tue April 21, 2015
Law

Sentencing Phase In Boston Marathon Bombing Trial Begins

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 6:25 pm

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.

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4:19pm

Wed April 15, 2015
Around the Nation

Bostonians Mark 2nd Anniversary Of Marathon Bombing

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 7:49 pm

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/.

4:36pm

Mon April 6, 2015
Law

In Closing Argument, Prosecutor Says Tsarnaev Wanted To 'Punish America'

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 7:48 pm

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3:32am

Wed April 1, 2015
The Two-Way

Closing Arguments To Begin Monday In Boston Marathon Bombing Trial

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.

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5:14pm

Mon March 30, 2015
Law

Prosecution Rests Case Against Admitted Boston Marathon Bomber

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 6:23 pm

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5:36pm

Mon March 16, 2015
Law

Officers Recall Night Of Battle With Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 8:01 pm

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5:07pm

Tue March 10, 2015
Energy

Boston Bombing Jury Sees Tsarnaev's Writings

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

5:22pm

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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5:33pm

Wed March 4, 2015
Law

Boston Marathon Bombing Trial Opens With Admission Of Guilt

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

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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

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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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5:08pm

Mon January 5, 2015
Law

Potential Jurors Screened For Boston Marathon Bombing Trial

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

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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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4:53pm

Thu December 18, 2014
Law

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Makes Court Appearance In Pretrial Hearing

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:32 pm

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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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6:02pm

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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5:07am

Thu July 31, 2014
NPR Story

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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4:19pm

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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4:15pm

Mon July 14, 2014
NPR Ed

For Most Kids, Nice Finishes Last

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 6:24 pm

Teens say their parents are teaching them that success smells sweeter than kindness.
Flickr

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.

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5:01am

Tue July 8, 2014
Law

First Trial Begins For A Friend Of Marathon Bombing Suspect

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 9:51 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The first trial connected to the Boston Marathon bombing is underway. The defendant is not the surviving suspected bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. It's Tsarnaev's friend - a 20-year-old from Kazakhstan who is accused of obstruction of justice. NPR's Tovia Smith reports.

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