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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Economy
5:28 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

In The Long Wait For Aid From Washington, Job Hunters Despair

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 6:20 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Lawmakers are promising new efforts to restore jobless benefits for long-term unemployed, but it may take a while - 1.4 million people who've been out of work long term saw their benefits disappear three weeks ago. Congress failed to agree on funding to renew them. NPR's Tovia Smith visited with a few people who are without work in Boston.

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Sports
5:09 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

A Story Of The Boston Marathon Bombing, As Told On Skates

Ross Miner skates during the men's short program at the 2013 Skate Canada International last year. He hopes to qualify for the upcoming Winter Olympics.
Dave Sandford Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 7:48 pm

Ross Miner is among those competing for a spot on the U.S. Men's figure skating team Friday night in Boston. He is a hometown favorite who is bringing some local flavor to his performance — he's going to tell the story of last year's Boston Marathon bombing.

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Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
5:11 am
Sat December 14, 2013

A Grieving Newtown Mother's Motto: 'Love Wins'

Jimmy Greene holds a picture of his daughter, Ana, as he kisses his wife Nelba Márquez-Greene, at a January news conference in Newtown, Conn. They try to remember the good days with their daughter. "It is what brings me great comfort and great joy," Márquez-Greene says.
Jessica Hill AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:31 am

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.

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Around the Nation
5:22 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Newtown Parents Seek A Clearer Window Into Violent Behavior

Avielle's artwork hangs on the walls and windows of Jeremy Richman and Jennifer Hensel's home.
Craig Ruttle AP

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 11:22 am

The shooting in Newtown, Conn., last December has left families of the 26 victims, most of them children, struggling to heal in different ways.

Jeremy Richman and Jennifer Hensel are one such family. They lost their only child, 6-year-old Avielle, in the shooting. In the year since, they've responded as any parents would: Asking why such a tragedy could have happened.

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U.S.
4:24 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Winter Storm Freezes Holiday Travel

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 10:04 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

If you are like many Americans, on thing now stands between you and your Thanksgiving turkey: A long trip by plane, train, bus or car. And stormy weather is slowing things down. Airports are experiencing delays, even some cancellations.

And as NPR's Tovia Smith reports, the story is no better on the road.

TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: This would of course be a bad day to travel, even in the best case scenario. So many trying to get to turkey tomorrow left early today.

STEPHANIE CORRADO: I'm a little concerned...

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NPR Story
4:26 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Mobster 'Whitey' Bulger Gets Two Life Terms And Then Some

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 10:22 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Victims wept in court today as a federal judge sentenced Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger to two life terms in prison, plus five years, ensuring that the now 84-year-old will never walk free. Bulger was convicted in August of running a massive racketeering operation that spanned decades and included extortion, drug running and at least 11 murders. NPR's Tovia Smith was in court and joins us now. Hi, Tovia.

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Around the Nation
5:07 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Critics Say Mob Boss's Trial Has Been A Disappointment

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 8:01 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The sentencing hearing of convicted mobster James Whitey Bulger began in federal court in Boston today. Bulger was convicted in August of taking part in 11 murders while running a massive criminal enterprise going back to the 1970s. Sentencing takes place tomorrow, but no matter what jail time he gets, it's pretty clear that the 84-year-old Bulger will spend the rest of his life in prison.

As NPR's Tovia Smith reports, it is an anti-climactic end to a long, expensive trial that has left many frustrated by what it didn't accomplish.

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Law
5:08 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Victims' Relatives To Face Whitey Bulger At Sentencing Hearing

James "Whitey" Bulger was captured in June 2011 in Santa Monica, Calif., with his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig.

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 10:59 am

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.

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Sports
4:50 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Boston Celebrates First World Series Win At Home In 95 Years

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 6:01 pm

Boston fans celebrated the World Series win Thursday by the Red Sox over the St. Louis Cardinals. The victory is the first series win for Boston at home in Fenway in 95 years.

NPR Story
5:19 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Red Sox Raise Spirits In Wounded Boston

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 6:47 am

Just getting back to the World Series would have been exciting enough for Bostonians, but in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, the Red Sox's success brings a new rallying point for a wounded city. Still, there's always the danger of trivializing tragedy.

Around the Nation
4:03 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Students At Harvard's Kennedy School Weigh In On Shutdown

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 12:23 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Federal employees are making their way through a backlog of emails, voicemails and work now that the government has reopened.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Immigration services are verifying the status of workers.

MONTAGNE: Fishing inspectors are getting the crab season started.

GREENE: And, Renee, here in Washington, the National Zoo's Panda Cam is showing more adorable private moments between mama and cub.

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Around the Nation
5:59 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Putting Good Deeds In Headlines May Not Be So Good

Glen James holds a special citation while facing reporters with Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis during a news conference at police headquarters on Sept. 16.
Steven Senne AP

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 7:19 pm

An online collection has raised more than $145,000 for a man who stumbled onto a pile of money and turned it over to police.

Glen James' story of a good deed is just one of many making headlines. It may not be exactly brand new, but public interest does seem to be piqued these days by ordinary folks making what are seen as extraordinary ethical decisions.

Some, however, question if airing this kind of "good" news is actually good.

A Series Of Good Deeds

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Shots - Health News
5:12 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Boston Hospitals Share Lessons From Marathon Bombing

A Boston police officer wheels an injured boy down Boylston Street as medical workers carry an injured runner after the Boston Marathon bombing in April.
Charles Krupa AP

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 10:10 am

Boston hospitals say that overall they did well in their response to the bombings because, as crazy as it sounds, they got lucky on April 15.

Dr. Richard Wolfe, chief of emergency medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, says hospitals were fortunate with both the location and timing of the bombs that stunned the city.

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Education
4:27 am
Wed September 18, 2013

Should It Take 2 Or 3 Years To Earn A Law Degree?

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 4:49 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Law students are looking for some changes to their education. The American Bar Association plans to issue a report in the next few weeks, recommending a major overhaul of how law schools operate. And students are hoping that a recent comment from President Obama, will boost one reform in particular: cutting law schools down to two years, from three.

NPR's Tovia Smith reports.

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Law
5:02 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Jury To Decide James 'Whitey' Bulger Case

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 6:06 am

Federal prosecutors and defense attorneys gave their closing arguments on Monday. One side calling Bulger vicious and violent — the other calling the government systematically corrupt. The former south Boston mob boss is accused of a rash of crimes including 19 murders.

NPR Story
4:13 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

'Whitey' Bulger Won't Testify, But He Didn't Finish Quietly

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 5:19 pm

In Boston Friday, former mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger said he would not take the stand in his criminal trial and that his defense would rest. But before that happened, he railed at the judge and his defense team.

U.S.
5:25 am
Tue July 30, 2013

Will Whitey Bulger Testify? It's Still Unclear

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 7:46 am

The defense in the Whitey Bulger trial began Monday. Still unanswered is the big question: Will the reputed mob boss testify?

Law
5:08 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Gay Marriage Activists Turn Focus On States That Ban It

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 9:01 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For the first time, a state has been forced by a federal court to recognize a gay marriage from another state. The ruling comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, and as NPR's Tovia Smith reports, that's opened up a new front in the fight for gay marriage.

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U.S.
4:09 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Boston Marathon Victims Push Back On Fund Protocol

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 7:11 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

Three months after the Boston Marathon bombing, money continues to roll into The One Fund, that's the charity set up for victims of the attack. More than 200 claims have already been paid out, but some victims are questioning the methods used to divvy up the funds. And as NPR's Tovia Smith reports, they're asking the state attorney general to intervene.

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Law
5:58 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Tsarnaev Pleads Not Guilty To Boston Marathon Bombing

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 4:52 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev made a brief appearance in federal court yesterday. He pleaded not guilty to 30 counts in connection with the attack. The charges include using a weapon of mass destruction in an attack that killed three people and injured more than 260. The 19-year-old faces the possibility of the death penalty. NPR's Tovia Smith was in the courtroom.

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