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.

As stressful as it always is for students applying to college, this year it's all that — and then some — for the admissions officials trying to decide whether to admit them. Because of the pandemic, many students will be applying without standardized test scores and several other metrics admissions officers at selective schools have long relied on, leaving colleges scrambling to figure out what else they might consider instead.

It has become a political and cultural flashpoint, drawing a clear divide between the "masked" and the "masked-nots." The disdain runs between the consciously unmasked president of the United States and his deliberately mask-donning Democratic rival, all the way on down to those crossing paths — and often crossing each other — in the cereal aisle of the grocery store.

Toilet paper has been an issue since the start of the pandemic, but now toilets themselves are the concern. As stay-at-home restrictions are lifting, many are feeling a long pent-up urge to go out, but what's stopping some is concern about their urge to go while they're out.

As in, use the bathroom.

Loath to risk the germs in a public restroom, if they can even find one that's open, many are limiting their outings while others are getting creative.

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The father of a Newtown, Conn., girl who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting has died in an apparent suicide. Newtown Police say 49-year-old Jeremy Richman was found dead early Monday morning, not far from his office.

"This is a heartbreaking event for the Richman family and the Newtown Community as a whole; the police department's prayers are with the Richman family right now, and we ask that the family be given privacy in this most difficult time," said Lt. Aaron Bahamonde.

With many federal workers now losing hope that they'll get a paycheck this week, stress is mounting. But so are some efforts to help the hundreds of thousands affected by the ongoing shutdown — including about 8,000 in Massachusetts.

In Boston this week, a pop-up food pantry opened for men and women of the Coast Guard, the only branch of the armed services working without pay.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced sweeping rules on how colleges handle cases of sexual assault and harassment that she says will fix a "failed" and "shameful" system that has been unfair to accused students.

One year after the #MeToo movement took off, new NPR-Ipsos polls show the nation deeply divided on sexual assault and harassment, with fissures running more along party lines than gender.

Most — 69 percent — of more than 1,000 Americans surveyed, say the movement has created a climate in which offenders will now be held accountable. But more than 40 percent feel the movement has gone too far.

As the opioid epidemic has escalated around the nation, colleges and universities have been spared the brunt of it. Opioid addiction and overdoses are more rare on campuses than among young adults in the general population. But schools are not immune to the problem, and they're growing increasingly concerned about how to keep students safe.

As the nation's dairy farmers struggle through their fourth year of depressed milk prices, concerns are rising that many are becoming depressed themselves. The outlook for the next year is so bleak, it's heightening worries — especially in the Northeast — about farmer suicides.

Agri-Mark Inc., a dairy cooperative with about 1,000 members, saw three farmers take their own lives in the past three years. The most recent was last month. It's a very small sample, but very sharp and disturbing increase.

This week marks five years since the mass shooting deaths of 20 young children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

One of those killed was 6-year-old Avielle Richman, who was shot in her first-grade classroom. Her parents, Jeremy Richman and Jennifer Hensel, plan to spend this year's anniversary day quietly, at home with the two children they had after Avielle's death.

Along with explicit sexual education classes, some schools are beginning to offer more G-rated lessons on love. Experts say the so-called "iGen" is woefully unprepared to have healthy, caring romantic relationships and young people need more guidance. So schools are adding classes that are less about the "plumbing" of relationships, and more about the passion.

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.

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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.

Returning to watch the Boston Marathon was never a question for Heather Abbott. After losing her leg in the bombing last year, watching the race is just one item on a long list of things she did before and intends to do again. Also on that list: wearing 4-inch heels.

"Sometimes, I think: Why am I doing this to myself? Because I could just wear regular flat shoes," Abbott says. "I don't want to give things up that I love to do, so I'm going to get used to it and figure it out."

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.

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.

A recent string of deaths in the Northeast from a drug known as Molly has authorities looking into whether a bad batch may be to blame.

Police believe the purified form of the drug known as Ecstasy is what killed four young people in just over a week, and sent many more to emergency rooms. Incidents involving the drug have stretched from Boston to New York and Washington, D.C.

As college students return to class from winter break this week, campuses around the nation are bracing for the possibility of a flu outbreak.