In 2010, political reporter Diego Cabot of Argentina’s La Nación received a leak with massive potential: a CD with 26,000 emails from the minister of transportation under then-President Cristina Kirchner. For two weeks, four La Nación journalists pored over thousands of documents by hand. But then the paper’s then-IT manager Ricardo Brom built a search engine that let journalists go through the leaked documents — and they had their first scoop within 40 minutes.
That investigation was a key moment for La Nación’s transformation into a powerhouse of Latin American data journalism. Momi Peralta, who was managing multimedia training and development at the time, said she’d been encouraged by the steam the open data movement was gathering in countries like the U.S. and U.K. She’d seen how major news outlets outside Argentina were increasingly putting resources to doing data-driven work.