Tovia Smith

Tovia Smith is an award-winning NPR National Correspondent based in Boston, who's spent more than three decades covering news around New England and beyond.

Most recently, she's reported extensively on the #MeToo movement and campus sexual assault. She's also covered breaking news from the Newtown school shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent trial, as well as the capture, trial and later death of Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger. She has provided extensive coverage of gay marriage, and the sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church, including breaking the news of the Pope's secret meeting with survivors.

Throughout the years, Smith has brought to air the distinct voices of Boston area residents, whether those demanding the ouster of Cardinal Bernard Law, or those mourning the death of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy. In her reporting on contentious issues like race relations, abortion, and juvenile crime, her reporting always pushes past the polemics, and advances the national conversation with more thoughtful, and thought-provoking, nuanced arguments from both — or all — sides.

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 Sept. 11 attacks. With an empathic ear and an eye for detail, she tells the human stories that evoke the emotion and issues of the day. She has gone behind the bars of a prison to interview female prisoners who keep their babies with them while incarcerated, she's gone behind closed doors to watch a college admissions committee decide whom to admit, and she's embedded in a local orphanage to tell the stories of the children living there. Smith has also chronicled such personal tales as a woman's battle against obesity and a family's struggle to survive the recession of 2008.

Throughout her career, Smith has won dozens of national journalism awards including a Gracie award, 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.

Smith took a leave of absence from NPR in 1998 to help create and launch Here and Now, a daily news magazine co-produced by NPR and 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 as varied as a round-up of emerging tech and a listener call-in for advice on workplace survival.

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 filed her first stories as an intern and then reporter for local affiliate WBUR in Boston beginning in 1987.

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

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A group of die-hard Patriots fans went to federal court earlier this week trying to overturn the team's punishment for Deflategate.

More than 700 million women worldwide today were married as children, and most of them are in developing countries. But there is a growing recognition that many young teens are marrying in the United States as well — and several states are now taking action to stop it.

Advocates say the young marriages run the gamut: They include teens of every ethnicity and religion, teens who are American-born and teens who are not being forced into arranged marriages.

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 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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.

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 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Let's go now to Massachusetts where staffs at abortion clinics are scrambling to adjust their plans after that ruling. From Boston, NPR's Tovia Smith reports.

As the federal government presses colleges to improve the way they handle cases of sexual assault, schools are turning their focus to defining "consent" — how to distinguish between activity that's consensual and activity that's not.

The rampage that left six dead in California last week has once again revived the debate over gun control around the nation. In Massachusetts — a state that is already one of the toughest on guns — lawmakers are considering sweeping new legislation that includes some of the nation's tightest restrictions on sales of shotguns and rifles, and more focus on the mentally ill.

Ten years ago this week, attorney Mary Bonauto woke up with more than just your average case of pre-wedding jitters. It had been six months since her arguments had persuaded Massachusetts' highest court to allow the nation's first legal gay marriages, but opponents were still trying to stop the weddings before they started.

"I had been so scared, so many times, during really what had been really a ferocious onslaught to try to keep marriages from ever happening, so I continued to worry," Bonauto recalls.

Thursday, the federal government sent a message that it's taking sexual harassment on college campuses seriously. Education officials released the names of 55 schools facing investigation for their handling of sexual abuse allegations.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Ever since she was convicted of a brutal murder in 1992, Michelle Kosilek has known that she'd be stuck in prison for the rest of her life.

That she can live with. The harder part was feeling she was stuck for life in the wrong body, says her attorney, Joseph Sulman.

"It's horrible," Sulman says. "I don't like to use the word 'torture,' but it's, you know, emotional claustrophobia and ... constant anxiety."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Ross Miner skates during the men's short program at the 2013 Skate Canada International last year.

As much as Dec. 14 will forever be a day of unfathomable grief for Nelba Márquez-Greene, Dec. 13 will be one of unending gratitude.

"I will never forget that day," she says.

On that day, Márquez-Greene stopped the usual frantic drill: rushing to activities and errands, worrying about the dishes and laundry, even cleaning up the mess on the floor.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

It's the moment many victims of former Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger have been waiting decades for: In federal court in Boston, relatives of those killed by Bulger will face the former gangster and describe their pain.

Bulger was convicted in August of taking part in 11 murders while running a massive criminal enterprise for decades. There is little suspense around Bulger's sentencing — even the minimum would be enough to send the 84-year-old away for the rest of his life.

To many victims, Wednesday's sentencing hearing is less about Bulger than it is about them.

Pages