Taylor Swift at the 2023 MTV VMAs and Beyonce at the Atlantis The Royal Grand Reveal Weekend in 2023

Gannett Is Hiring Taylor Swift and Beyoncé Reporters After Mass Layoffs

Gannett Co, Inc., the largest newspaper publisher in the U.S., has hired a Taylor Swift reporter and is on the hunt for a Beyoncé reporter despite instituting a series of mass layoffs since 2021. Although the media company cut hundreds of jobs over the past few years, it believes reporters who exclusively cover Swift and Beyoncé are a necessity.

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Gannett, which owns USA Today and dozens of local newspapers nationwide, has been experiencing financial woes since it merged with GateHouse Media in 2019. While the merger of these two giant companies is what allowed Gannett to attain its status as the largest newspaper publisher, the company took on an enormous amount of debt to complete the merger. Its debt, combined with the decline of print newspapers and its constant acquisition of local newspapers, did not bode well for the company’s finances. Of course, once Gannett realized it had spread itself too thin, it was the employees who bore the brunt of these poor decisions.

Gannett has undergone several layoffs, cutting 400 employees in August 2022 and another 200 by November 2022. Much of the company’s leadership also began departing amid the turmoil. Last summer, Gannett journalists nationwide took part in a walkout to protest poor leadership, low pay, and mass layoffs. One can only imagine how those hundreds of newspaper employees who lost their jobs or who had to work under the constant threat of layoffs feel about Gannett’s recent hiring of Swift and Beyoncé reporters.

Gannett hires an exclusive Taylor Swift reporter

Taylor Swift at Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour premiere
(Matt Winkelmeyer, Getty Images)

Back in September, Gannett announced it was seeking to hire reporters to cover Taylor Swift and Beyoncé. Essentially, these reporters would write exclusively about Swift and Beyoncé, tracking their growing influences, exploring their fanbases, and reporting on their impact on pop culture, music, and the economy. The remote positions required international travel and came with a pay scale of $40,000 – $100,000. While the company is still seeking a Beyoncé reporter, it recently introduced the world to its Swift reporter.

Gannett has hired 35-year-old Bryan West to serve as its Taylor Swift reporter. West hails from Arizona but recently moved to Nashville to fulfill Gannett’s role. He explained that he does have a journalist background but is also a super fan of Swift and has tracked her entire career. West said that the role isn’t much different from a sports journalist, and revealed that some of the reporting will be serious and dive into Swift’s impact “on society and business and music,” but will also include some fun Easter eggs and song discussion.

Gannett needs to get its priorities straight

Considering that just a few months ago, Gannett employees across the nation participated in a walkout to protest poor pay, leadership mismanagement, and layoffs, one has to ask why Gannett thought now was the best time to roll out its Swift and Beyoncé reporters. Additionally, it seems odd that Gannett was willing to cut hundreds of jobs but is now hiring a reporter to write solely about Swift. Writing about Swift is something that any of its employees across its newspapers could do. As knowledgeable as West may be, it seems pretty unnecessary to devote two whole positions to writing about two people, especially when these sole positions could cost the company up to $200,000 annually.

Studies are already showing that Swift fatigue is setting in due to the media over-reporting on the singer. It’s likely not long before Beyoncé fatigue sets in, too. Needless to say, with the media already over-reporting on Swift, Gannett will face stiff competition from other media outlets and the risk of Swift’s popularity dropping off as suddenly as it arose. Then there’s the question of why almost a thousand employees were laid off for cost-cutting measures just for Gannett to turn around and start advertising for a role as unnecessary as a Swift reporter.

The move also says a lot about how the journalism industry is changing. In addition to laying off its employees, Gannett has closed dozens of local papers in the past few years. Local newspapers are disappearing, and even those that remain open are shifting their focus to national news reporting. It’s disappointing that companies are taking away the opportunity for residents to learn all the happenings of their city while at the same time contributing to the endless stream of reporting on Swift. Similarly, it’s disappointing that so many of Gannett’s talented and devoted reporters, editors, and photographers were treated as if they were expendable by a company that is now proudly touting the hiring of a reporter devoted entirely to covering a pop star.

Gannett is far from the only media company to institute mass layoffs recently. It’s now pretty standard for journalists to live in constant fear of losing their jobs. As the closing of print newspapers and the hiring of Swift and Beyoncé reporters indicate, the industry values talent and creativity less and less. Now, it’s all about digital news and chasing clicks from formulaic articles and over-reported trends. Gannett lost so much talent and value when it shuttered countless local newspapers and fired passionate, talented employees, and that can’t be replaced with a Swift or Beyoncé reporter—especially when readers start looking for something of substance instead of just the latest Swift news that every other outlet is reporting on.

(featured image: Dimitrios Kambouris / Mason Poole, Parkwood Media / Getty Images)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.