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.

This is the first in an ongoing series of stories following the struggle of one restaurant trying, like many, to reinvent itself to survive the global pandemic.


Food and drink establishments have been among the most challenging businesses to operate through the pandemic. Around the nation, many have already shut down for good, while others that reopened are now closing again because of increases in COVID-19 cases in some places.

The protests since the death of George Floyd are being hailed by many as a watershed moment that might ultimately bring about an end to police brutality and systemic racism. But the high hopes are also tangled up in dark fears that the current uprising will eventually die down and will end up being just one more missed opportunity.

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.

Updated on May 19 at 11 a.m.

Summer camps around the nation are grappling with whether or how they can open this summer as the pandemic continues. The prospect is especially challenging for overnight camps, where hundreds of kids play, eat and sleep together, and the very idea of social distancing is completely anathema to the camp experience.

Little wonder a growing number of sleep-away camps have already capitulated to COVID-19.

Amid all the disappointments and cancellations for high school seniors this year because of COVID-19, many schools around the nation are scrambling to salvage at least some sort of graduation for the class of 2020. Many are considering holding ceremonies online or staging some sort of drive-by celebration.

"To not have [graduation] just doesn't seem right to us," says Ken Freeston, schools superintendent in North Salem, N.Y.

North Salem High School Principal Vince DiGrandi agrees.

"Absolutely, they've earned it," he says.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

If it seems that your Facebook feed is flooded with as many fundraising appeals for animal shelters, humanitarian groups and cancer researchers as your postbox was in December, you aren't imagining things.

Those birthday fundraisers you've likely seen posted by your friends, tripled over the past year, from $300 million raised for charities in 2017-18, to $1 billion a year later. It's great news for those nonprofits. But some Facebook users think it's getting to be too much of a good thing.

You hear it said about sexual harassers all the time: "Guys like that will never change."

That may be true for those who are out-and-out psychopaths and those with other serious disorders, but experts say most sexual harassers are not in that bucket.

"They're apples and oranges," says forensic psychiatrist and Temple University School of Medicine professor of psychiatry Barbara Ziv, who has spent decades studying both victims and perpetrators of sexual misconduct. Most are "opportunistic offenders" or self-delusional, she says, but they're not beyond help.

For decades, chef Charlie Hallowell was a culinary star around Oakland, Calif., as beloved for his restaurants' hip vibe, as he was for his passion for all the right social causes. Even the national critics raved about his creative modern California cuisine and his "cult following." Bon Appetit fawned, "Hallowell should run for mayor already."

Updated at 11:35 a.m. ET Sunday

It's been two years since the #MeToo movement erupted, toppling many powerful men accused of sexual misconduct.

President Trump is showing no signs of dialing back what Democrats are calling a "blatantly racist attack" on four members of Congress, who are all women of color. Trump is accusing the "squad" of "radical Democrats" of hating America and has said they should "go back" to where they came from.

A growing number of high-profile men brought down by the #MeToo movement are now attempting to make a comeback, from comedian Louis C.K. and TV political pundit Mark Halperin to TV host Billy Bush, who was recorded along with Donald Trump on the now-infamous Access Hollywood tape.

It's all stirring debate on the ideas of redemption, rehabilitation, and second chances for those who have lost their jobs because of allegations of sexual harassment or other sexual misconduct.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

As the recent college admissions scandal is shedding light on how parents are cheating and bribing their children's way into college, schools are also focusing on how some students may be cheating their way through college. Concern is growing about a burgeoning online market that makes it easier than ever for students to buy essays written by others to turn in as their own work. And schools are trying new tools to catch it.

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.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The Department of Education has been inundated with approximately 100,000 public comments on its proposed new rules for how campuses handle cases of sexual assault. Secretary Betsy DeVos opened the public comment period two months ago, after unveiling her plan to replace Obama-era rules with regulations that, she says, would better protect the accused. The window for comments closes Wednesday at midnight.

In federal courts around the nation, the wheels of justice may soon be grinding to a halt.

The government shutdown has already caused delays and disruptions throughout the federal court system, and officials are bracing for things to get a lot worse next week.

Gillette's new ad seeks to channel the #MeToo movement with a new image of masculinity.
YouTube

Giant razor-maker Gillette got itself into a bit of a tough scrape wi

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.

Six years after 26 children and educators were killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut by a troubled 20 year old, a group of parents is stepping up its efforts to make sure it doesn't happen again.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A mixed reaction today for new federal rules on how colleges should handle cases of sexual assault and harassment - the Trump administration has announced sweeping changes to Obama-era guidelines that current officials say were unfair to students accused of assault or harassment. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says the changes she's proposing will level the playing field. Critics say the new regulations are unfair to victims. NPR's Tovia Smith reports.

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.

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