Passionate About Pop Music? America’s Leading Newspaper Network Seeks Reporters Specialized in Taylor Swift and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter Coverage

by Michael Nguyen
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Specialized Journalists

This week, America’s largest newspaper conglomerate, Gannett, announced two distinct job openings on its website: positions for journalists focusing specifically on Taylor Swift and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.

Gannett, the proprietor of over 200 daily publications, plans to station these newly recruited journalists within the frameworks of USA Today and The Tennessean, its Nashville-oriented publication. Michael Anastasi, Vice President for local news at Gannett and the Tennessean’s Editor-in-Chief, described the company’s ideal candidates as “contemporary narrators” who are proficient in various formats of journalism—print, audio, and visual.

The job description for the Taylor Swift reporter role delineates the need for a journalist capable of dissecting both factual elements and emotional dynamics surrounding the pop icon. The aim is to illuminate how Swift’s influence continually broadens, the significance her fanbase holds in pop culture, and the overall impact she exerts across both the music and business landscapes.

In a parallel vein, Gannett is also seeking a journalist able to scrutinize Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s social and industrial influence.

Anastasi emphasized that The Tennessean’s existing three-member music reporting team delivers top-notch coverage. He indicated that Gannett is ceaselessly on the lookout for avenues to render itself indispensable to its subscriber base.

The announcement, however, has elicited criticism, given Gannett’s history of labor force reduction. According to the NewsGuild, Gannett’s workforce has contracted by 47% over the past three years, owing largely to layoffs and attrition. Critics argue that such specialized roles do not advance local journalism, a core strength of the company.

Rick Edmonds, an authority at journalism think tank Poynter Institute, questioned the prudence of these new roles at a juncture when local journalism is witnessing significant cutbacks. In response, Anastasi contended that the specialized roles are not being created at the detriment of existing journalistic positions.

Another angle of critique originated from music writer Jeremy Gordon, who expressed concern over the job listings normalizing fandom as a journalistic profession. If the newly appointed journalists veer too closely to fandom rather than maintain a journalistic approach, it could adversely impact Gannett’s reputation. Conversely, a well-executed role could solidify these reporters as national experts on these culturally significant figures.

Omise’eke Tinsley, an academic and the author of “Beyoncé in Formation: Remixing Black Feminism,” pointed out that the very existence of these roles signifies the economic potency of Swift and Beyoncé.

While specialist beats are not unusual in journalism, especially within political reporting, entertainment journalists traditionally cover a broader spectrum of subjects. Suzy Exposito, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, highlighted the challenges of maintaining comprehensive coverage given the overwhelming volume of material released by artists.

Eric Grode, director of the Goldring Arts Journalism and Communications program at Syracuse University, argued that if these roles are executed with journalistic integrity, they could offer valuable expertise to news organizations, although the scope remains limited to a few globally impactful artists.

As digital media vies for attention with fan accounts on social media platforms, Suzy Exposito mentioned that the new roles may be motivated by the strong likelihood of reader engagement. Omise’eke Tinsley suggested that criticism of the roles might even carry undertones of societal misogyny.

Spokespersons for Taylor Swift and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter were not immediately available for comment.

Contributions to this article were made by Bauder, based in New York.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Specialized Journalists

Q: Why is Gannett hiring journalists specifically for Taylor Swift and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter?

A: Gannett is seeking specialized journalists to delve into the cultural and economic impact of these iconic artists, recognizing their significance in pop culture and their ability to drive engagement with readers.

Q: How does this hiring impact Gannett’s workforce, given their history of layoffs?

A: Critics have raised concerns about these new roles amidst Gannett’s recent workforce reductions. Gannett asserts that these specialized positions are not being created at the expense of existing journalistic roles.

Q: Are these journalist roles purely about fandom or serious journalism?

A: The challenge lies in maintaining journalistic integrity while covering immensely popular artists. If executed professionally, these roles could offer valuable expertise to news organizations, but they must avoid appearing as mere fan accounts.

Q: What does this mean for the future of music journalism?

A: These roles may signify a trend toward artist-specific journalism, especially for artists with significant global reach. However, the broader landscape of music journalism remains multifaceted and inclusive.

Q: Is this a positive development for journalism or a reflection of celebrity culture?

A: Opinions vary. Some view it as a space for positive stories about influential figures, while others see it as an overemphasis on celebrity culture in journalism.

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