Newspaper coverage of Taylor Swift and Beyoncé is about to get even bigger, with Gannett this week posting job listings for dedicated reporters for each of the artists at USA Today and The Tennessean. The announcements by the largest newspaper chain in the United States have struck a false note with some in the media.
The job description for “Taylor Swift Reporter” says Gannet is seeking “an experienced, video-forward journalist to capture the music and cultural impact of Taylor Swift” who “will identify why the pop star’s influence only expands, what her fanbase stands for in pop culture, and the effect she has across the music and business worlds.”
The one for “Beyoncé Knowles-Carter Reporter” says the successful candidate will “chronicle the music, fashion, cultural and economic influence” of the international superstar and icon, capturing “her effect not only on the many industries in which she operates, but also on society” and identifying “why the star’s influence continues to expand and the effect it is having on the music and business worlds.”
Both jobs require the ability to travel internationally, with a salary range of $21.63 to $50.87 per hour.
Each of the artists has enjoyed record-breaking tours this year as their reach and cultural impact continues to grow, but newsrooms have also continued shrink across the U.S., prompting mixed reaction to the job postings. Some journalists pointed out that Gannett cut its workforce last year with 400 employees laid off in August 2022, and a further 6% of the company’s U.S. media division in December.
A reporter for Chalkbeat Tennessee, wrote on X (fka Twitter), “Nashville is getting a Taylor Swift reporter. Memphis is still without an investigative reporter.”
Kristin Roberts, Gannett’s Chief Content Officer, said in a statement to CBS News that USA Today Network is “committed to serving our communities across America with journalism that is essential to millions of readers, viewers and listeners. And that includes providing our audience with content they crave.” She also said that Gannett has hired 225 journalists since March and now has more than 100 open posts, per the New York Times.
Robert Thompson, the director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, told the NYT that hiring for such specific beats “is not as absurd as it looks at first glance.” Covering an artist like Swift is a “perfectly sound activity for a journalist to be doing.”
LA Times culture columnist Suzy Exposito said she understood the reasoning for the jobs:
Swift recently became the first female artist to hit 100 million monthly listeners on Spotify, while her record-smashing Eras Tour has been made into a concert film that is headed for a $70M+ domestic opening weekend when it bows October 13.
Beyoncé earlier this year broke the career Grammy Awards record and is now the most-awarded artist of all time with 32 wins. In July, her Renaissance World Tour had the biggest one-month gross in boxscore history, according to Billboard.