The Whalley Trial: Introduction

Dear Spectators,

There’s an interesting new online publication out of Calgary called The Sprawl that characterizes itself as “pop-up journalism.”

Rather than publishing regularly, to arbitrary deadlines, The Sprawl “pops up” when there’s a story it wants to cover in depth,  then disappears until the next big thing comes along. I love this quote from its manifesto:

The Sprawl is a local riff on a global movement toward “slow journalism”: nuanced, high-quality, curiosity-driven reporting for people who want more than the daily news grind. We ask: how can our journalism deepen Calgarians’ understanding of their city?

For those of you who like a little more regularity in your news sources, don’t worry, I have no plans to adopt the pop-up model for the Spectator permanently. But without realizing it, I seem to have adopted it these past two weeks — I’ve upended the already upended schedule I’d settled on for summer to cover John Whalley’s civil suit against the CBRM. I’m publishing today, although I hadn’t expected to publish a full edition until next week, and I’m not even publishing my full coverage today — I have written three articles that only take you up to Day 2 of the trial!

But do you know what? I think that’s a good thing.

I can’t think of a better description of the Whalley case than a story that could deepen our understanding of the CBRM. And the Spectator has always tried to take “deep dives” into stories, so it seems I’ve been participating in the slow journalism movement without even knowing it. Sweet. Bending the publishing schedule to accommodate this seems completely reasonable to me and although I have never heard anyone describe me as a “completely reasonable” person, I trust that my readers will agree.

I spent a full week covering a trial and I can’t write about it without filling in context and background and reporting details reporters working to deadline don’t have time to mention and adding the odd bit of commentary when I feel like it. The Sprawl has something a propos to say about that, too:

Rather than pretending to be objective, we are upfront about where we come from and how it informs our work, always recognizing that we have more — much more! — to learn. We welcome feedback without defensiveness.

So with that said, I invite you to take a “deep dive” into the Whalley trial. If my hunch is right, you should resurface with a better understanding of our municipality.

The Editor