After six months, Data Fixers achieves 100 mentions and new cross-border investigations

Data Fixers, a data-driven journalistic project sponsored by The Brown Institute for Media Innovation, has recently published two major investigative projects and garnered 100 citations and publications in media outlets worldwide since its inception half a year ago.

The latest project, Deforestation INC, was a three-month investigation released earlier this week by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), bringing 140 journalists together. They revealed that prominent environmental auditing firms disregard or overlook glaring environmental destruction caused by loggers and other clients whose practices they certify as sustainable, undermining an intricate global system intended to combat forest devastation and climate change.

Data and investigative journalist Luiz Fernando Toledo (CJS MSc in Data Journalism 2022), coordinated the data analysis for Brazilian media outlets and utilized the Freedom of Information Act to amass hundreds of documents that were employed to write the story.

Unveiled in August of the year 2022, Data Fixers is being employed as a source by journalists from media outlets such as Al Jazeera and The Washington Post and aided non-profit organizations like Global Witness by consulting public records.

“I am pleased to see that, in six months, the project has supported journalists across the world, from local newsrooms in Brazil to major investigative groups such as the ICIJ in the United States and OCCRP (The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project) in Europe. Achieving 100 mentions and publications proves that there is a desire to utilize more data in investigative projects about environmental crimes,” said Toledo.

Another piece was published last week by Toledo in the Brazilian magazine Piaui and exposed how the Brazilian environmental agency, Ibama, lost more than US$200 million in environmental fines due to administrative issues, leaving environmental crime unaddressed.