Gannett, the largest newspaper chain in the United States, has filled the position of “Taylor Swift reporter” with the appointment of Bryan West, a 35-year-old journalist from Arizona who recently relocated to Nashville for this dedicated role. West will be based in the Tennessean’s newsroom for USA Today and Gannett’s 200+ local daily newspapers, where he will exclusively cover Taylor Swift-related content.
When Gannett initially announced the job opening in September, it sparked discussions among media professionals about the significance of having a full-time Taylor Swift reporter. Opinions varied widely, with some viewing it as a questionable move while others saw it as a justifiable decision in the entertainment journalism industry.
Bryan West, the newly appointed Swift reporter, explained his perspective on the role:
“I would say this position’s no different than being a sports journalist who’s a fan of the home team. I just came from Phoenix, and all of the anchors there were wearing Diamondbacks gear; they want the Diamondbacks to win. I’m just a fan of Taylor and I have followed her her whole career, but I also have that journalistic background: going to Northwestern, winning awards, working in newsrooms across the nation. I think that’s the fun of this job is that, yeah, you can talk Easter eggs, but it really is more of the seriousness, like the impact that she has on society and business and music.”
West acknowledged his excitement about discussing Swift’s music in-depth, even referencing specific details like hidden elements in songs. This level of detail may appeal to ardent Swift fans, who might engage with Gannett’s digital content, as newspapers increasingly expand their online presence.
Michael Anastasi, the editor of the Tennessean and the VP of local news for Gannett, emphasized that the company was genuinely seeking a qualified journalist for the role, and the applicants varied widely in experience and qualifications. Ben Goad, the Tennessean news director, pointed out that this role goes beyond traditional print reporting, as West will create video content, engage with Swift fans, and cover events related to the artist’s career.
Although West will primarily cover Taylor Swift, his approach to journalism and ability to provide balanced coverage were addressed during his application process. He expressed his willingness to report fairly on Swift, even if that means being critical at times.
West’s personal journey to this unique role included a period of sobriety and a career change, ultimately leading him to pursue his dream of reporting on Taylor Swift. He is eager to delve into Swift’s work, including the upcoming release of “Taylor’s Version” of “Reputation.”
While some may view this as a fan-oriented position, Gannett and its editors see it as a strategic move to adapt to changing journalism dynamics and continue serving local communities across the country. The company remains committed to hiring local journalists across its various publications.
Despite the challenges of securing interviews with Taylor Swift, West is ready to explore the mysteries and intricacies of her work, maintaining his enthusiasm for his dream job as the dedicated Swift reporter for Gannett.