The Otter publishes excellent long-form narrative journalism written by top emerging journalists at universities across Canada. We choose pieces that you wouldn’t find anywhere else—ones that approach a wide range of topics with curiosity, rigor, and spunk. Our readers can expect fresh perspectives written by their new favourite writers.
We are a collective of journalists made up of students, professors, and alumni from Toronto Metropolitan University. Like our namesake, we dive deep into murky waters to dredge up unexamined treasures and bring them to light. We may not have as much heft as other marine mammals, like The Walrus or The Narwhal, but we take pride in our blend of playfulness, ingenuity, and care.
The Otter, an online magazine dedicated to long-form narrative writing, is a new project being incubated out of Toronto Metropolitan University’s Journalism Research Centre.
The inspiration for The Otter came from a Narrative class for first-year Master of Journalism students at TMU in the Winter 2022 semester. In one of the Wednesday classes last March, students read substantial chunks of each other’s second drafts and commented on them. I couldn’t help but notice how radiant their faces were. They seemed astonished and amazed at how far their colleagues’ stories and writing had come since the original story pitch meeting in January. It was sinking in—all of the long interviews, all of the scene writing sessions, all of the research gathering, the slog of rewriting and rewriting—that there was a huge payoff.
Then, in May 2022, I was waiting at the Balzac’s coffee shop on the TMU campus to meet up with one of my graduate students—Maddy Mahoney, now one of The Otter’s co-editors—to talk about her master’s thesis. I was a few minutes early and for some reason—the post-pandemic ability to hang out and let thoughts drift creatively, maybe?—I remembered that brightspark moment in March, and started to jot down a few basic ideas—online magazine, check; long-form narratives only, check; site populated with fantastic stories written by students, check; stories that deserve to be read by the public, check; stories that aren’t necessarily what the major magazines want but nevertheless are important stories about the way we live now, check. I was so excited by this idea that when Maddy sat down I just blurted the entire spiel at her. Maddy listened and said:
“Great—let’s do it.”
And so, here we are, on the cusp of launching our online magazine dedicated to long-form narratives, just like we planned.
— Bill Reynolds, November 4, 2022
The Otter is produced and funded by the Journalism Research Centre (JRC) at Toronto Metropolitan University.
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