María Isabel Magaña

Investigative  Data Driven Journalist and Professor at La Sabana University

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A Bit About Me

As a kid, reading Agatha Christie and embarking on adventures with Sherlock Holmes fueled my desire to become a detective. As a teenager, I got involved in human rights causes where I felt the urge to be the voice for those who were being ignored in my country.  The only way I thought I could follow both my passions was becoming a journalist. My profession transformed completely when I discovered the power of data in journalism. Ever since I have worked as a data-driven journalist and promoted right to know initiatives in Colombia. This is a sneak peek of my work. I hope it will open the door for me to work with you.


International Work

The following is a collection of some of my most recent work with international media outlets. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of these projects since the beggining, helping with the conception of the investigations, the design and the production of the work through data analysis, reporting, writing, photography and video, and in some cases with the data visualization. Take a look and enjoy ;)

Wildlife's black market in Spain

November, 2015

This investigation aims to analyze the way animal trafficking in Spain is prevented. While doing it, we analyzed the CITES Seizures database for the period 2005-2014, realized more than 20 FOIs and held several interviews with national and international experts. Our conclusion? Most of the politics held by Spain are based in  myths, not facts. This, in addition to the lack of coordination among the different organisms of the State favors the black market of species

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Spain in the face of the mirror

October, 2015

Through this in depth piece, we were aiming to understand how much has Spain changed in 40 years of democracy. I did all the data treatment behind the graphics in order to understand the country's transformations.

The Enslaved Land

May, 2017

'Enslaved Land' is a one year data driven and cross-border investigation developed by newsroom with the collaboration of El Faro. This project reveal the hidden sides of agroindustry and plantations economy in developing countries. The project involved nearly 20 journalists that uncovered the hidden abuses behind five crops consumed widely in Europe (palm oil, sugar, coffee, cocoa and banana) in four countries: Guatemala, Colombia, Honduras and Ivory Coast. Our first subheading gets straight to the point: “This is how poor countries are used to feed rich countries”.

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National Work

These are some of the projects I have done in Colombia while coordinating the data team in Datasketch. This is a data startup in Colombia, were we develop data analysis and visualization tools and projects while teaching other how to do it.

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 12.41.44 PM.png is the first website in Colombia that helps citizens request information (FOIs) from any public institution or any entity that manages or administers public resources. We allow them to have direct access to authorities, send their request and notify them when they respond. The whole process is transparent and public so that you and the rest of the world can follow it.

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Trees in Bogotá

This project aimed to visualize all the public trees that are planted in Bogotá, Colombia's capital, and the stories behind them. We got the information through different FOIs and I was in charged of coordinating and designing the whole project and doing the data analysis and reporting.

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Social leaders are being murdered in Colombia

This investigation explains why despite the fact that Colombia signed a peace agreement with the Farc guerrilla, social leaders in the country are being systematically murdered. We collected the data by pairing with a local NGO in order to map every assassination.

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Survivors: analyzing gender violence in Colombia

This project was published on November 25th, 2017, international day against gender violence. By analyzing official datasets in Colombia regarding this issue we learned that there's no sufficient information on the subject. Because of this, we decided to build our own by collecting information from the media. At the end, the investigation shows the reality of gender violence in Colombia and how the country- and each individual- can take steps to prevent it.

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Colombia's Cuisine

This piece is an interactive 
This piece is a tribute to the Colombian culinary traditions. We used the most complete recipe book there exists in the country and transformed it from a PDF to an interactive app that allows you to know what to cook according to what you have in your fridge. We also analyzed the most important plates such cuisine has, where they come from and why they're important and talked with young chefs that are promoting local techniques in modern restaurants. 


If you want to learn more about me from the people I have worked with, feel free to contact the following people:

Antonio Rubio

Investigative Journalist and Director of El Mundo and URJC Master for Data and Investigative Journalism.

Jacopo Ottaviani

Jacopo Ottaviani is a journalist and computer scientist experienced in data visualization, in-depth storytelling and cross-border data journalism projects.

Raúl Sánchez

Data-driven journalist at

Juan Pablo Marín

Data scientist and Datasketcht's CEO.