What’s this about?

I created At Large for three reasons.

  1. I wish it existed in 2005, when I jumped into freelance writing without any journalism training. I learned on the job and, thankfully, had more successes than embarrassments, though there were many of those. I owe my start to those first few editors who taught me, directly or indirectly, how to sharpen my pitches, write for an audience, and be professional. But I owe my longevity to fellow freelancers who helped me navigate the interpersonal, sensitive, and abstract parts of the business.

  2. I’m now in a position to help versions of my former self. Over the course of my career, I’ve freelanced for outlets big and small, in print and broadcast media, as reporter, stringer, commentator, and creative writer. Having edited magazines and co-founded small media companies, I have some insight into the legitimate challenges of hiring and editing freelancers.

  3. I’m still learning! Fifteen years after sending my first pitch, I face exciting and daunting challenges as I broaden my horizons, like ghostwriting memoirs, researching for nonfiction television productions, and turning my own stories into books and documentaries. And I always learn something about my mainline work in the process of helping other freelancers navigate sticky business situations. There’s mutual benefits in hashing it out together. So, in the spirit of collaboration and freelancer solidarity, it’s time we make our conversations public. Well, public to an extent.


How it Works

Every Tuesday, I’ll help one or two freelance writers and journalists with an industry dilemma. If I can’t answer it myself, I’ll reach out to my network of writers, editors, publishers, producers, agents, and other media professionals. Don’t worry — I’ll take extra care to conceal any identifiable information about you and your employers.

If you’d like advice, just email me a brief summary of your situation and any relevant details about yourself, the assignment, and publisher.

Get Advice via Email

Unless it’s a hypothetical question, everyone including the publication gets a pseudonym, and I won’t publish anything unless we agree it’s in your best interest. But if you’re really, really embarrassed, you can submit your question using this anonymous form.

Ask Anonymously


About Me

I’ve worked for such outlets as The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, CBC TV, and The Guardian, and appeared on Al Jazeera, WNYC, and other networks. I’ve edited several magazines, ghostwritten two bestselling memoirs, and hosted several podcasts, including filling in Jesse Brown’s seat on the media criticism show CANADALAND. I’m currently writing a travel memoir called Praying to the West: The Story of Islam in the Americas in 13 Mosques (Simon & Schuster Canada).

I sit on the boards of PEN Canada, an advocate for free expression in literature and journalism, and the nonfiction book festival LitFest. In addition to co-directing Digging in the Dirt, a documentary about mental health in the Alberta oil patch, I’ve worked as a researcher and story consultant on nonfiction drama.

As an educator, I teach the business of freelance journalism at the University of Alberta and regularly run creative writing workshops, including at Pandemic University, a pop-up writing school I founded to support writers stiffed by the COVID-19 fallout. It has since grown into a full-fledged company. I also served as the 2013 Edmonton Public Library’s Writer in Residence.


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People

Omar Mouallem
Author, journalist, and documentary filmmaker | Contributor to WIRED, The Guardian, LitHub, CBC, etc. | Creator of Pandemic University School of Writing
Samantha McCabe
Vancouver-based freelance journalist focussed on gender-based violence and politics. Audience engagement fiend. 1/3 of The Supplement team.