Experience Investigative journalism Data journalism Teaching Awards

I'm Luiz Fernando Toledo,

a journalist using investigative and data techniques to bring impactful stories to life.

I hold two master's degrees - one in Data Journalism, at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism (New York), after being awarded a full scholarship, and the other in Public Administration and Government, at FGV-EAESP (São Paulo / Brazil), both with honors.

I have been working on several investigative journalism and public transparency projects related to my country, Brazil.

One of these projects is DataFixers.Org, that I'm leading at the Brown Institute for Media Innovation (Stanford/Columbia universities), after being awarded a Magic Grant. Data Fixers has been used as a source of data and public records about environmental crimes by news outlets like BBC, Al Jazeera, The Washington Post and several Brazilian organizations. You can read more about it here, here. This is the first brazilian project sponsored by the institute.

I coordinate one of the most popular newsletters about public records in Brazil. In January 2023, I revealed on that newsletter former Brazilian presidents and their families personal expenses and receipts using a government corporate card, showing the use of public funds to promote their personal image. More than 1,200 articles have been published using the data I revealed in the newsletter.

My work is also related to teaching and research. I have been teaching data journalism techniques and public records to Brazilian students. Since 2018 I have taught more than 2,000 students and professional journalists in several workshops and lectures presented in more than 10 Brazilian states, Washington DC and Oxford (UK). In 2022 I taught in a masters program at Insper university.

Read my resume


I have worked for a decade in major publications in Brazil and abroad, such as Estadão, TV Globo, CNN Brasil, Revista Piauí and OCCRP. For that work I have been receiving several awards and scholarships and some of my investigative projects have been used as an example of good journalism practices in articles like this one, published by the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN).

I have also been coordinating and/or contributing to multiple projects that improve government transparency in my home country.

I co-founded Fiquem Sabendo, a Brazilian NGO that fights to open public interest data. We've successfully released hundreds of public records used in over 2,000 stories by major Brazilian and international media (some examples are BBC, Mongabay, CNN, Deutsche Welle, El Pais, Folha de São Paulo, TV Globo and Estadão). Some of these stories resulted in investigations, helped to save public funds and were used in official investigations. The project is a member of the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) and received funds from Google News Initiative in 2021 and 2022.

Since 2020, I am also one of the Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism (Abraji) directors, one of the world's leading associations of investigative reporters, and develop different projects there to help journalists get and use public data. One of these projects was awarded a six-month fellowship to study at the University of Oxford and my project became an online training on public records that helped hundreds of local reporters and editors.

Investigative reporting

Revista Piauí OCCRP

A world heritage site under attack in Brazil

Violin bows sold at a UK store and made of an endangered species of brazilwood

Brazilwood is being driven to extinction by an industry not often associated with organized crime: classical music. Known for its density and strength, the wood is crafted into bows that are used to play stringed instruments such as violins and cellos around the world. Forensic tests on a sample of the confiscated wood, obtained by reporters, show it was logged in the Pau Brazil National Park.

Read the article in Portuguese
FOIA requests

How Brazil's environmental agency lost R$ 1 billion (Revista Piauí)

Environmental fines papers disappear in Brazil

An investigation about how environmental fines "disappeared" from Brazil's environmental agency office, Ibama, helping several environmental offenders save money and continue deforestation in the Amazon.

Read the story in Portuguese
FOIA requests Python/Pandas

Brazilian Bow Makers Investigated For Dealing in Endangered Wood (OCCRP/Piauí Magazine)

Violin bows sold at a UK store and made of an endangered species of brazilwood

A 2-month cross-border investigation in the US, UK and Brazil about a group of bowmakers suspicious of trafficking an endangered brazilian wood to make violin and cello bows. I have coordinated this project.

Read the English version Read the story in Portuguese (part 1) Read the story in Portuguese (part 2)
FOIA requests Python/Pandas

Brazil might lose R$ 300 million in environmental fines by 2022 (BBC)

Brazil's environmental agency agents

Internal documents, data obtained by the reporter and more than 20 interviews with former IBAMA employees and experts show that Brazil is not only not punishing deforestation but, according to the interviewees, companies feel that fines are not a deterrent to criminal behavior as they often expire without enforcement.

Read the story in Portuguese Read the story in English
Cross-border journalism Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) PostgreSQL

How Endangered Brazilian Timber Ends Up in the Bronx (OCCRP, Revista Piauí)

Infographic by Rodolfo Almeida

A long journalistic investigation reveals how gang members in Brazil have managed to ilegally extract and export yellow ipe wood to the USA in a highly profitable fraud scheme. This investigation has begun with a spreadsheet and multiple cross-referencing with public datasets.

Cross-border journalism Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) Spreadsheets

Exposing secret offshores in Luxembourg (OCCRP, Revista Piauí)

Brazil's map

Coordinated by OCCRP, Le Monde and 15 other media partners around the world, this project has revealed how secret companies have been used for crime and corruption. The data was obtained by scraping Luxembourg's business register website. I was responsible for the data analysis and writing stories related to Brazilian figures.

Cross-border journalism Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) FOIA requests

How China Tobacco's worldwide expansion is keeping Brazilian tobacco growers in debt (OCCRP, The Intercept)

A farmer working in southern Brazil

A cross-border investigation on the world's largest tobacco company and how it is flooding countries with cigarettes and working with smuggling networks. We found, in Brazil, that farmers are comitting suicide and living in debt.

Read the whole project Read the Brazilian stories
FOIA requests Spreadsheets

How Illegal Land Grabs in Brazil’s Amazon Feed the Global Beef Industry (OCCRP, Revista Piauí)

Cattles in a Brazilian farm, in the Amazon region

Land grabs and deforestation have devastated Brazil’s northern Pará state. But slaughterhouses, including some owned by top meat processors JBS and Marfrig, still buy from suppliers who source from ranches on stolen land. This story was made in partnership with Fiquem Sabendo, the non-profit data agency that I cofounded.

Read the story

How a small company led a massive disinformation campaign in Brazil (Estadão)

A chart showing that the disinformation network has much more 
          Facebook audience than 
          celebrities such as Neymar, 
          Anitta, Madonna and Luan Santana

I have used social media data to identify and group the most influent Facebook pages responsible for sharing disinformation content during Brazil's national elections in 2018. I found that they were being operated by a single small company operated by a couple. Facebook decided to shut their pages down a week after the story, based on my investigation.

Read the story
Public data analysis

This story made a city save millions in public funds (Estadão)

Former São Paulo's mayor Fernando Haddad's picture

...by revealing that a public bid was already set between companies before the due date. The government decided to cancel the bid due to my investigation and start a new one with more competitors.

Read the story
Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) FOIA requests

Exposing a millionaire housing-benefit fraud (Estadão)

Universidade Estadual Paulista, a Brazilian university

...by revealing that public universities' top officials had been lying about where they actually lived. After that, a court said they should give the money back, based on the story.

Read the story
FOIA requests

Authorities helped healthcare tycoons to import innefective medicine during the pandemic (CNN Brasil)


Secret documents that I found through sources and several FOIA requests revealed how Bolsonaro's government spent public funds to import and produce chloroquine in Brazil using an Army lab during Covid-19 crisis. Some of the findings were mentioned later by congresspeople during an investigation.

Read the stories
FOIA requests Spreadsheets

Authorities and artists use illegal and dangerous air charter services (CNN Brasil)

A Brazilian map with red spots on where illegal aircrafts were seized

Brazilian politicians, local and federal governments, celebrities and even air taxi unions have worked with air charter companies who were investigated and fined for illegal operations. I have coordinated this project, that led to multiple fines and investigations to some of these companies and one of them was shut down after the story was published.

Read the story

Data journalism, visualization and mapping

Python/Pandas Spreadsheet/Excel

How income impacts Brazil's National High School Exam results (Estadão Dados)

a histogram shows school performance normal distribution in Brazil

This story identified the factors that most affected students' grades in Enem, Brazil's largest high school exam. We found students with the worst social conditions who achieved grades similar to those of the richest students.

Read the story
Python/Pandas Spreadsheet/Excel

Racial and gender disparities in Brazil's high school exam (Estadão Dados)

A waffle chart showing racial disparities in the Brazilian high school exam

This story analyzes the differences between race and gender in the 1,000 best and 1,000 worst Enem scores.

Read the story

Bolsonaro won the election in 97% of the richest Brazilian cities; Haddad had more votes in 98% of the poorest (Estadão Dados)

A scatterplot shows the social disparity in the presidential vote

Data analysis made right after the national election results came up in Brazil, in 2018.

Read the story
Python Selenium

Programming: Scraping every Brazil's Freedom of Informaction Act (FOIA) requests (Columbia Journalism School)

A Python scraper screenshot

I have created two scrapers that monitor FOIA requests (Freedom of Information Act or Lei de Acesso à Informação in Portuguese) sent by Brazilian citizens in a spreadsheet based on a specific keyword. It helps to monitor how transparent the federal government is and can also work as a huge source of data and documents.

Read a detailed presentation here Read the code here
Scrollytelling FOIA requests Python/Pandas

Scrollytelling piece about environmental fines (Columbia Journalism School)

Ibama sanction

A short scrollytelling project for a data journalism class shows how environmental fines are not being enforced in Brazil.

Read the story
API Python/Pandas

Data analysis with API: Iron Maiden songs have gotten sadder over the years (Columbia Journalism School)


A Spotify data analysis using Python for a data journalism class. The "happiest" Iron Maiden songs were released in the 80's and 90's. I have analyzed Iron Maiden's discography using data from the Spotify API and explored the data to show how happy and danceable each song is, based on a "valence" index that uses the sound (not the lyrics) to measure how positive that song is.

Read the project here Read the code here
API Python/Pandas

Mapping projects (Columbia Journalism School)


A site to host assignments and final deliverables for the Points Unknown class at the Journalism School, Columbia University, summer 2022.

Read the projects here
API Python/Pandas

1 out of 4 Brazilian agencies has become more secretive under Bolsonaro (Columbia Journalism School)

a line chart containing denied foia requests from 2013 
                to 2021 that shows a peak in 2020, during the pandemic

A data analysis on FOIA requests that have been sent to Brazilian agencies from 2013 to 2021. School project.

Read the project here Read the code here
GGPlot / Plotnine Python/Pandas Altair

Brazil's struggling to treat overweight children

a line chart containing denied foia requests from 2013 
                to 2021 that shows a peak in 2020, during the pandemic

Data analysis from the Brazilian Ministry of Health shows an increase in child obesity between 2019 and 2021. This story was made in partnership with Fiquem Sabendo, the non-profit data agency that I cofounded.

Read the project here (in Portuguese)

Read more stories

Data journalism skills

Design/Data visualization: Adobe Illustrator, Plotnine (ggplot for Python), Datawrapper, Flourish, d3/JavaScript

Data analysis: Python, Excel, Google Spreadsheet, PostgreSQL

Web scraping: Python (BeautifoulSoup, Selenium), APIs

Mapping: QGIS, Mapbox (basic)

Teaching, workshops

I have taught more than 2,000 students and professionals about public records, Brazil's Freedom of Information Act (Lei de Acesso à Informação), investigative journalism, education coverage and other journalism-related topics.


Temporary professor at the Master in Data Journalism (Insper)- Introduction to Spreadsheets and Data (3 months)

8-hour program about public records for the Brazilian alternative media (Barão de Itararé)


LAI nas Redações: a public records program taught in 10 Brazilian newsrooms (including Globo, Estadão, Folha with almost 2,000 subscriptions) - Partnership between Abraji and Fiquem Sabendo

3-hour workshop about how to get public records and data for lawyers, activists and journalists. Instituto Ling


How to cover public education (online program - two classes (1 hour) - Jeduca (Brazil's Education Writers Association)


How to cover public education - in-person lectures in 15 Brazilian public and private universites - Jeduca (Brazil's Education Writers Association)

Every year/ongoing

Since 2016 Curso Estado de Jornalismo (Focas Estadão): Public records and investigative journalism workshop

Since 2021 Trainee (Folha de São Paulo) Public records and investigative journalism workshop

Since 2017 Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism (Abraji) conferences


Due to my professional efforts to improve public transparency in Brazil, I've been interviewed by several TV, podcasts, radio and online news shows - you can see some of those below.

Globo/G1 - interview (January 2023) - I was interviewed by TV Globo host Natuza Nery in one of Brazil's most popular podcasts, O Assunto, to explain how I obtained former presidents corporate expenses, including Bolsonaro, and how to read the data. Held in Portuguese. Listen to the podcast here

UOL (January 2023) - I was interviewed by UOL TV host Fabiola Cidral to discuss how to read government expenses in the Brazilian transparency portal. Held in Portuguese.

Fil-Lisbon (conference in Portugal - November 2022) - I was invited by the Filecoin Foundation and Muckrock to present my data journalism project, DataFixers.org, in a conference in Portugal. (Held in English)

CNN (Brasil) - interview (July 2020) - I was interviewed by CNN TV host Monalise Perrone to explain how I did an investigative project about illegal air charter services in Sao Paulo. Held in Portuguese.

TV Cultura - interview (Dec.22) - I was interviewed by Jornal da Cultura, a traditional TV show in Brazil, to explain how Brazil can improve transparency policies in 2023. Held in Portuguese.

UOL/Análise da Notícia - interview (Dec.22) - I was interviewed by Brazil's most popular news website to explain how we did the Brazilwood smuggling investigation. Held in Portuguese.

TV Câmara - interview (Nov.22) - I was interviewed by Sao Paulo's City Council to discuss transparency and freedom of information. Held in Portuguese.

TV Gazeta - interview (Dec.22) - I was interviewed by TV Gazeta to explain how to overcome government secrecy in Brazil. Held in Portuguese.

Scholarships, fellowships, grants

Gateway Grant (2023)

Biodiversity Story Grant - Earth Journalism Network / Internews (2023), with Data Fixers

Muckrock/Gateway Grant (Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web) 2022, with Fiquem Sabendo and Data Fixers

Google News Initiative (GNI) Startups Lab 2022, with Fiquem Sabendo

Magic Grant recipient 2022-2023 - Brown Institute for Media Innovation (Columbia/Stanford)

Person of the Year 2022 - Brazilian American Chamber of Commerce

Columbia Journalism School (US$ 91,500 in tuition) 2021/2022

Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (University of Oxford) fellowship 2021

ICFJ Latin America grantee 2021 - FOIA explainer

ICFJ Latin America Grantee 2020 - FOIA - Brazil and US project

Instituto Ling's Visionary Journalist US$ 60,000 scholarship (2019) - Jornalista de Visão

EAESP-FGV - Full scholarship for a master of science in Public Administration (2019)

ICFJ Emerging Leaders Program / fellow 2018