This series got a lot of attention: The Plain Dealer’s Web traffic increased dramatically during the week of its publication, says Stuart Warner, an editor and writing coach at the paper. Warner believes that thousands of young people were drawn to reading about one of their own. We imagine it got attention also because it’s a piece about a son of the paper’s well-off readers—someone who was not "supposed" to die of an apparent drug overdose. The piece also raises questions of culpability, which encourages readers to consider their own opinions and talk.
It’s a compelling story for these reasons and is well-reconstructed, too. We did wish there were more writing about the inner life of the parents—more about what they went through after their son died. Still, in the reconstruction there are some nice details; we liked, for example, the moment Andy’s mother played Phish out of her car at her son’s grave. And the last section, which clearly is reported first-hand, has more concrete, directly reported detail—which has us ending the piece experiencing the parents more immediately.
Read “Andy’s Last Secret,” by Joanna Connors