Jeremy Klaszus is catching up on free-lance work he’s had to put off since starting his new pop-up journalism venture, The Sprawl.
Writing away at his desk, nestled in the corner on the third floor of Assembly Co-working Space in northwest Calgary, Klaszus is used to working this way.
Setting up shop wherever it’s convenient and working quickly are two of the things that made the Sprawl so successful during its first run, covering the recent municipal election.
“It seemed like people really identified with it, way more than I expected,” said Klaszus in an interview.
“I thought it would be a fun side project for a month to see where it goes but I didn’t expect people to embrace it the way they did.”
Pop-up journalism is a new concept that Klaszus described as something that arises for particular time-frames, covering specific things, but is always in the background.
“It’s Calgary stories for Calgarians,” Klaszus said.
“I think that’s where the gap is…young, progressive people haven’t seen themselves reflected in the local media.”
The first edition of the Sprawl was dedicated to covering the civic election but Klaszus says he doesn’t want to pigeonhole future editions entirely into the topic of politics.
Instead, he would like to cover a broad range of topics from urbanism and development, to culture and society.
“I look at what Canadaland has done…The support grew and then they were able to hire some additional people, and now they’ve got a few different brands,” said Klaszus on how he would like the Sprawl to develoip to in the future.
Canadaland is a crowd-funded online news site that began its life as a podcast in 2013. It was founded by journalist Jesse Brown.
The Sprawl ran its first edition through social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and Medium but Klaszus is not attached to using one particular outlet. He enjoys the freedom to use multiple online channels.
“I have a lot of ideas about what the next things could be. I need to flesh them out more but what I like about it is that it doesn’t have to be locked into one format,” said Klaszus on the future of the Sprawl.
“What I’m looking at now is the possibility of a podcast.”
Funding for the Sprawl comes entirely through Patreon so Klaszus tries to keep expenses to a minimum, for now, opting to use accessible platforms that are inexpensive, or free to use.
More than 150 Patreon supporters now contribute to funding the Sprawl but Klaszus would like to run a more intentional fund-raising campaign for future editions.
Klaszus has more than 15 years of experience in reporting starting as a student journalist at Mount Royal, where he graduated in 2006 with an applied degree in Journalism.
From there he moved on to cover local politics and urban development for FFWD, The Metro, The Herald and several other publications.
He is continuously doing communications work for several organizations and is writing for various outlets until he decides to launch the Sprawl’s next edition.
“I have a close friend, and we both have very busy lives and our kids are around the same age. But we have this tradition where we go to McDonald’s, chat for an hour and then we play video games for an hour,” said Klaszus,
“So that’s what I’m going to do, play Mario Cart.”