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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2:19pm

Fri July 18, 2014
Law

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

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 5:54 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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3:21pm

Wed July 16, 2014
Around the Nation

Drug-Sniffing Dogs Ease Parents' Minds — Or Confirm Their Fears

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 6:02 pm

Tom Robichaud launched his business, Discreet Intervention, six months ago. Here, he works his dog in a vacant office building, hitting on a cylinder containing cocainelike drugs.
Pat Greenhouse Boston Globe via Getty Images

At his kitchen table, in a working-class neighborhood not far from Boston, a father is shaking his head in exasperation. His 21-year-old daughter has been in trouble with the law and using drugs on and off for years.

"I've had her in detox — I couldn't tell you how many times," he says. "She gets back with her friends and starts all over again."

This man agreed to talk on the condition that neither he nor his daughter would be named because she is on probation and could get in serious trouble if she's caught using drugs again.

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2:15pm

Mon July 14, 2014
NPR Ed

For Most Kids, Nice Finishes Last

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 4:24 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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3:25pm

Fri June 13, 2014
Education

A Campus Dilemma: Sure, 'No' Means 'No,' But Exactly What Means 'Yes'?

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 4:23 pm

Many colleges are grappling with how to define consensual sexual activity between students. Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, mandates that students get verbal permission before making any sexual advance.
Peggy Turbett The Plain Dealer/Landov

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.

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5:01pm

Wed May 28, 2014
Law

Already Tough On Gun Control, Massachusetts Aims To Get Tougher

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 6:10 pm

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo addresses a crowd during a Democratic Party convention last year. DeLeo unveiled a comprehensive gun bill Tuesday.
Aram Boghosian Boston Globe via Getty Images

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.

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