When a nurse called Lisa Pascoe with the results of her toddler’s blood test, she was utterly shocked.
The test showed her son’s blood lead level was five times what federal health officials deemed elevated. Pascoe soon left her St. Louis home to avoid lead hazards, though the ordeal still weighs on her family.
A decade later, multimedia journalist and University of Missouri–St. Louis student Niara Savage is telling Pascoe’s story and informing the public about the dangers of high levels of lead in Midwestern children through Unleaded – a joint investigation by the Missouri Independent and the National Public Radio Midwest Newsroom.
Her work on the investigative series is part of her role as an NPR Midwest Newsroom reporting fellow. She was one of two young journalists selected in February for the new six-month fellowship, which is funded through a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
As a fellow, Savage is reporting for the Missouri Independent, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news outlet dedicated to investigative journalism.
“The issue of lead poisoning in children seemed really compelling to me because I know how damaging that can be for kids, and it impacts their whole life and ability to be successful,” she said. “To have the opportunity to be able to focus on that solely for six months with a great team of people and be able to investigate that while also learning from really great journalists in print and in radio – it’s something that made me really excited.”
It’s the latest entry on an already impressive resume.
Previously, Savage interned at St. Louis Public Radio; freelanced for Black news publications such as the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, Nashville Voice and Tennessee Tribune; and authored a young adult novel, “The Killing of Gregory Noble.” After teaching fifth grade for a year in St. Louis Public …….