Taylor Swift beat reporter announcement garners internet scrutiny

There’s no real “bad blood” between the internet and journalist Bryan West — but there are a lot of questions about what his new role as Gannett’s official Taylor Swift correspondent actually will entail.

The newspaper chain hired West, 35, as its dedicated Swift reporter for USA Today — ending a search that started with a viral job posting in September

Hundreds — including veteran news journalists and a White House beat reporter — applied for the role, Michael Anastasi, Gannett’s vice president of local news, told Variety. The application sought a journalist who could “capture the music and cultural impact of Taylor Swift.” It was posted as Swift continues to dominate headlines — from coverage of her widely successful Eras Tour (and subsequent concert movie) to recent buzz around her reported relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

But news of West’s hiring, which was announced in Monday’s Variety article and by The Tennessean newspaper of Nashville, was met with skepticism online by many journalists and Swifties alike. 

Some said they had reservations about Gannett’s hiring a self-proclaimed Swiftie, saying they hope West’s coverage will hold pop culture’s most powerful woman accountable. Many said they were disappointed that a man was hired to cover a woman who makes female-centric music. Others simply shared that they don’t agree with the way West ranked Swift’s music in his video application, which was shared to YouTube on Monday.  

“Not a lot going on at the moment,” West wrote Monday on X, referring to a popular shirt Swift wore in a music video for “22.” “So excited for this new chapter!”

When the job was unveiled, social media was abuzz with similar conversations — and memes. Gannett drew additional viral responses when it also said it plans to hire a dedicated Beyoncé reporter, who has yet to be announced. 

In West’s video application, which had been viewed just over 9,000 times on YouTube as of Tuesday evening, he outlines 13 reasons he should be hired. Other than his love for Swift — whom he once met and took a picture with — he also shared how his knowledge of her would come in handy.

West shared that he felt he would be able to report on Swift without bias, listing some of her songs that he doesn’t like. In the interview with Variety, he elaborated on that point. He compared the role to that of sports journalists who are fans of the home teams they cover. He said that in Phoenix, where he previously worked, anchors and journalists would wear clothing featuring the Arizona Diamondbacks’ baseball team logo and root for the team while they covered it. 

But even though he shared his qualifications and enthusiasm, some still shared their reservations about his hiring. 

“this job was a trap: media people don’t respect this guy because he’s a stan, the swifties don’t respect him because he’s not the right kind of stan,” media writer Max Tani posted on X.

“The ‘Taylor Swift Reporter’ role probably should have been filled by someone whose focus was the music industry (with a strong knowledge of Taylor Swift) and not a massive Swiftie who happens to be a reporter,” a person posted to X. 

Another joked: “of course the most important thing for a reporter to have is an emotional, unyielding adoration for their subject.”

Some seemed to joke that some of the songs West listed as his “least favorite” should be enough to get him to lose the role.

“FALSE GOD?! GET HIM FIRED,” a person posted to X.

But the most prominent complaint seemed to be about West’s gender, with some saying Swift’s ability to convey the female experience requires a female reporter. 

“one of the main components of taylor swift’s whole brand/ personality is the fact that she is able to perfectly put into words the experience of womanhood… so who was the genius who decided to give a man this job???  (especially a man who can’t even name her songs correctly),” a person posted to X, referring to how West had mistakenly called one of Swift’s songs “It’s Good to Have a Friend,” rather than its correct title, which is “It’s Nice to Have a Friend.”

One person simply quoted Swift’s lyrics from the song “The Man” to describe how they felt upon seeing West’s hiring. 

“‘I’m so sick of running as fast as I can/Wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man,’” a person wrote. “Huh. Wonder who wrote that.”

Ben Goad, the news director of The Tennessean, expressed optimism about West and the future of the beat. 

West is “going to be on video, going to be on social, going to be interacting with Swifties, and going to be out and about at tour stops, on red carpets, at the CMAs, wherever people are enjoying or reflecting on who Taylor Swift is,” he told Variety. “There’s no shortage of things to write. You know, it’s not unprecedented to have somebody (dedicated to covering) someone who’s a Senate candidate, or an athlete, like when LeBron James goes to Miami and has people just covering him. So I think there’s precedent for it. But also, I think, we’re taking a pretty bold step here, and I’m very optimistic for how it’s going to turn out.”

When asked for comment, a spokesperson for Gannett referred to a Swift lyric from her hit “Shake It Off.”

“Regarding the internet response: The haters gonna hate … and you know the rest,” the spokesperson said in an email statement.

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