Andréa Topper: Part 1: Editing True Crime

31m | May 1, 2023

Given its intense subject matter, it takes a special type of editor (or writer, journalist, etc.) to work on true crime. Throughout the developmental process, editors ask questions that often go much deeper than expected. We question the nature of content and how explicit it should be. And depending on your role in the project, you may be called to make ethical decisions when you least expect it.

This episode is the first of two parts. In part one, I introduce Andréa Topper—a writing coach and editor—who has had a varied career in journalism, content marketing, and corporate communications in Silicon Valley. She describes her role in 2018 as a writer for CrossFit’s Journal to cover a new program, Redemption Road CrossFit, which supports health, wellness, and personal redemption within the prison system. She was assigned to visit the Limon Correctional Facility, a men’s maximum-security prison located roughly 100 miles southeast of Denver, Colorado. While attending one of the sessions, she met Damian Arguello who fatally stabbed his wife and toddler while high on crack cocaine. He is now serving a life sentence.

Andréa is currently working on a book that covers Arguello’s story and her first-hand observations about our country’s prison system. We discuss a wide variety of topics that come into play when handling true crime: the writing process, emotional unrest when stepping away from work, journalistic skills required for interviewing, and making ethical decisions related to developing content.

For more information about Andréa’s prison visits, click on the following links to her blog and other articles:

  • Building Community Behind Bars—
  • Reporter’s Notebook: CrossFit in Prison—
  • Redemption Chronicle (blog)—
  • For a full list of posts, please use this link—

In addition to her experience in writing and editing, Andréa played a vital role in editing and contributing to the book, Speal: A David and Goliath Story, which sold tens of thousands of copies:

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