As the creator, publisher and editor of The Sprawl, Jeremy Klaszus has been heralded for his bravery in forging his own path. With The Sprawl, he’s developed a reader-supported local news outlet to prioritize the kinds of in-depth stories that he felt, as both a journalist and reader, were missing from traditional publications. While Klaszus’ vision as a publisher is something to celebrate, his strength as an editor is the magic ingredient in The Sprawl’s success.
Klaszus is the kind of editor that truly thinks like a writer — his pre-Sprawl career was in writing and he’s still a writer both at heart and in practice. After experiencing some dissatisfaction in his freelancing career, Klaszus mused on social media about creating a new Calgary journalism outlet and as things quickly snowballed, The Sprawl was born as a “pop-up journalism” experiment in 2017. The publication has taken some different forms over the years, but at its core, The Sprawl is about deep local coverage and a “slow news” approach that serves the readers and the community first, a model that gives Klaszus both a responsibility and a freedom as an editor.
The “slow news” philosophy informs every story in The Sprawl, be it one of Sam Hester’s delightful and insightful comics or a piece of long-form journalism from any one of the publication’s contributors. Klaszus asks his writers to explore and ask questions, letting the story take shape along the way. He invites stories that may seem too long, too complex, and in the words of one contributor, “too Albertan” for traditional publications. Gaining a reputation as both an amplifier of underrepresented voices and a mentor to emerging writers, Klaszus trusts his writers to tell stories in their own ways, bringing fresh and challenging perspectives while still reflecting The Sprawl’s core values.
Ultimately, Klaszus’s editorial work at The Sprawl is about relationships: those between editor and writer, the publication and its readership, the readership and the city of Calgary and province of Alberta. It’s easy for a new publication to claim it’s going to do things differently. Actually executing that vision is a different story. Klaszus will tell you the path hasn’t been easy, but with care and conviction, the possibilities are seemingly endless.