Featured WordPress Publisher: The Narwhal

Welcome to the first in a regular series where we focus on the very best publishers using WordPress.

We're not always looking for household brand names. We're also searching for publishers who are building new, brave and innovative platforms. That perfectly describes TheNarwhal.ca.

They are a team of investigative journalists who report environmental news and stories in Canada.

The site started in 2018 and has already won key awards for news and photo journalism. Click here to read their story.

The Narwhal publishes around one post per day, and they are more about quality than quantity. Their team write, plus also produce videos, podcasts and photo essays. Across all these mediums, they demonstrate a consistent style and heart.

Photo essays

High-quality photos are a defining feature of The Narwhal, so start with a look at their photo essays. This photo below is from a rafting trip made to an abandoned mine in Western Canada. The photos in the story are both beautiful and deeply unsettling:

Colin Arisman / The Narwhal
Colin Arisman / The Narwhal


I first found The Narwhal's work via a podcast they produced called “Undercurrent“. This was a limited series that tracked the life and death of a female grizzly bear in Alberta. She died over 450 km from her home range, and the series investigates the complex interaction between bears and humans. I've embedded Episode #1 below:


The “On the ground” series features local reporting from around Canada. These stories and in-person interviews are accompanied by photos of far greater quality than you normally find in newspapers. This photo below is from this post on a mine that was active for 3 years and has been polluting for the next 40 years.

Tsolum River Mine Restoration Story 0062 1 1400x1049 1
Photo: Taylor Roades / The Narwhal


The Narwhal are even good at video. This blog category features all their videos. The video embedded below is particularly good, and comes from this story about British Colombia:

The Narwhal and WordPress

TheNarwhal.ca uses a custom theme that relies on Bootstrap 4. The site is light and fast, relying on few plugins. The contact forms use Contact Form 7 and the posts are optimized with Yoast SEO. The pop-up windows use Hustle and the comments rely on Disqus.

One reason the site feels so fast is that it loads through Fastly, and almost all the site's CSS and Javascript is deferred so it loads after the posts.

More about The Narwhal

I highly recommend signing up for The Narwhal's weekly newsletter.

They are ad-free and survive through the support of monthly members.

Follow them on Twitter at @thenawhal.ca.

The Narwhal is an excellent example of how writers can use WordPress to create brilliant journalism and control their future.

  • Steve Burge

    Steve is the founder of PublishPress. He's been working with open source software for over 20 years. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. This profile is generated by the PublishPress Authors plugin.

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