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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.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. DAVID GREENE, HOST: And let's consider one issue that will likely fall to Betsy DeVos. She is the Republican activist and philanthropist chosen by Donald Trump to be education secretary. The question is how she would address a long-running debate over campus sexual assault. Here's NPR's Tovia Smith. TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: For the past five years, the Obama administration has championed the issue of sexual assault, driving up public...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. DAVID GREENE, HOST: OK, and let's hear from one group very disappointed in those results this morning, graduates and students of Wellesley College, the elite women's institution that is Hillary Clinton's alma mater. Thousands of people were on campus last night. So was NPR's Tovia Smith. TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: They came to what Wellesley women call the Mothership to party. (LAUGHTER, CHEERING) SMITH: From around the nation and the...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: This election is special for people at Wellesley College in suburban Massachusetts. The all-women's school has rallied around a famous graduate who could become the first female president of the United States. NPR's Tovia Smith visited Hillary Clinton's alma mater. TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: Nearly 50 years after she graduated from Wellesley, she's still the big woman on campus. Everywhere are pant-suited Hillary...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

One staple in just about every sexual assault prevention program is the video vignette. It's usually a play-acted scenario used to teach students what crosses the line. Now, the videotape of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump bragging about groping and kissing women is quickly becoming the classic real-life case study. Professor Harry Brod teaches a course on men, masculinities and sexual ethics at St. Norbert College in Wisconsin. Ironically, Brod says, what's most offensive about the...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

During the Our Ocean conference in Washington, D.C., President Obama announced the creation of the first national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean. "We're protecting fragile ecosystems off the coast of New England, including pristine underseas canyons and seamounts," Obama said during his remarks . "We're helping make the oceans more resilient to climate change ... and we're doing it in a way that respects the fishing industry's unique role in New England's economy and history." The 4...

Part of the experience of summer sleep-away camp is missing loved ones. And for many kids these days, that means longing for their beloved...cell phones . Most camps ban them, including Cape Cod Sea Camps, in Brewster, Mass. On opening day, the long driveway into camp is lined with signs welcoming campers, and warning them, "Send your last Snapchat" and "Last chance to send a text!" Campers say going cold turkey isn't easy. When 16-year-old Lily Hildreth first arrives, she...

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGoWLWS4-kU If colleges are a hunting ground, as they've been called, for sexual predators, advocates say that high schools are the breeding ground — and that any solution must start there. They say efforts at college are too little, too late. The push for earlier intervention is coming from a wide range of voices, including student survivors, law enforcement officials — and New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft. "I have a couple granddaughters in college, and y...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR .

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Wanna walk in James "Whitey" Bulger's shoes? His size 9 1/2 Asics sneakers — with extra cushion insoles — are among hundreds of items once owned by the convicted mobster that are being auctioned off by the government, to benefit Bulger's victims. On the block is pretty much everything but the kitchen sink that was seized from the California apartment where Bulger was captured five years ago, with his girlfriend Catherine Greig, after 16 years on the run. Think of it as a great big Gangster...

When it comes to sexual assault of students, some say private secondary schools are still being a little too private about how they handle misconduct. A recent Boston Globe investigation found hundreds of students were allegedly abused by teachers and staff at scores of New England prep schools since the 1950s. Many of the perpetrators were quietly let go, and then moved on to re-offend at other schools. To many who've been through private boarding schools, the stories of sexual...

When it comes to punishing students for campus sexual assault, some say kicking offenders out of school isn't enough. They want schools to put a permanent note on offenders' transcripts explaining that they've been punished for sexual misconduct, so other schools — or employers — can be warned. Survivor Carmen McNeill says it's common sense. She was a college junior nearly two years ago when, she says, she passed out on someone's bed after a party, from a mix of drinks — including one she...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

A group of die-hard Patriots fans went to federal court earlier this week trying to overturn the team's punishment for Deflategate . The Patriots were stripped of their first-round draft pick after the NFL found the team improperly deflated footballs in the Jan. 18, 2015, AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. Fans say the team shouldn't be punished while the case is on appeal. "That's not fair, you know. We gotta think long-term here," says Mike Dimauro, one of seven...

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. "To be honest with you, I begged my...

I first noticed it in a neighborhood of Boston aptly called the "Innovation District." On a crumbling corner of an old brick building, there was a gaping hole created by about 15 missing clay bricks, filled in with about 500 Lego blocks. I was determined to find out who the artist was. "I don't know!" I was told by folks working in the building. Their property manager had no clue, nor did the people at Lego. "If you hear, let us know," said brand relations manager Amanda Santoro. "It's a...

To many who lived it, the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing was the worst day of their lives. So when Hollywood started looking for people willing to relive it as extras in a feature film about the attacks, even the movie folks were surprised at the turnout. "I think I've never seen a line this long ever," says Grace Gallant of Boston Casting. She's literally out of breath from collecting buckets of resumes and headshots from thousands of movie star wannabes who started lining up at 4:30...

Allegations of sexual assault against Bill Cosby as well as intensified focus on campus rape have left many prosecutors struggling to figure out new ways to right old wrongs. Now, a growing number of states are changing their statutes of limitations to allow sexual assault cases to be prosecuted years and even decades after the fact. "We have to keep the door open for justice for survivors," says Rebecca O'Connor from the Rape, Abuse And Incest National Network. State statutes of limitations...

College students can't miss the warnings these days about the risk of campus sexual assault, but increasingly, some students are also taking note of what they perceive as a different danger. "Once you are accused, you're guilty," says Parker Oaks, one of several Boston University students stopped by NPR between classes. "We're living in a society where you're guilty before innocent now." Xavier Adsera, another BU student, sounds a similar theme. "We used to not be fair to women on this issue,...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: A new survey shows that 1 in 4 female students has been sexually assaulted while on campus. And this rate is even higher than previous researchers found. These results come from the largest survey to date of U.S. college students. NPR's Tovia Smith reports that it's also the first study to enable broad school-by-school comparisons. And it gives more detail about alleged assaults. TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE:...

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. "Every...

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...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: A suspected terrorist was fatally shot this week in Boston by antiterrorism officers. His family is calling for a full investigation of his death. They say it's not clear whether the shooting was justified. NPR's Tovia Smith has the latest. TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: Usaamah Rahim had been under 24-hour surveillance for allegedly planning to behead a specific person believed to be Pamela Geller, who has...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: In Boston today, a stiff federal sentence was given to the first of four people convicted of lying or hiding evidence about Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. A college friend, now 21 years old, had pleaded guilty to taking items from Tsarnaev's dorm room and throwing some of them into a dumpster. He was sentenced today to six years in prison. NPR's Tovia Smith reports. TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: Dias...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: In Boston today, a renowned anti-death penalty activist took the stand on behalf of convicted marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The defense has now rested. Tsarnaev's lawyers have been trying to persuade jurors to sentence him to life in prison instead of death. NPR's Tovia Smith was in courtroom. And, Tovia, begin by telling us more about this witness and what she had to say. TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE:...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: In Boston this afternoon, convicted bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev got emotional in court for the first time. Five of his relatives from Russia took the stand, and Tsarnaev seemed to tear up during their testimony. NPR's Tovia Smith was in court and she joins us now. And Tovia, first, tell us about this testimony and how Tsarnaev reacted. TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: Well, I think we all saw what we've been watching...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: In a few words, here is the defense for the Boston Marathon bomber. He was drawn into the deadly plot by his older brother. STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: That's the essence of the case defense lawyers are building for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. They're offering their side in the death penalty phase of his trial. They long ago admitted Tsarnaev's guilt, but say their client was drawn into the plot. That's just one...

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