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.

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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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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.

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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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The defense rested its case today for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after just a few hours of testimony. NPR's Tovia Smith was in court, and she joins us now. And Tovia, to begin, we're talking five hours over two days. Why so short?

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

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And let's hear now how the Rolling Stone piece is changing the conversation at campuses nationally. As NPR's Tovia Smith reports, many worry that the story of the alleged victim, Jackie, at UVA, will affect cases elsewhere.

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TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: I'm Tovia Smith at an Irish pub in Boston.

KEVIN FAGAN: (Foreign language spoken) That means welcome.

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.

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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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