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Sept. 12, 2023, 6:57 p.m.
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Sarah Scire   |   September 12, 2023

It’s not every day a local news opening gets international attention. But, like pretty much everything else Taylor Swift touches, a job listing from The Tennessean and parent company Gannett for a “Taylor Swift Reporter” made sparks fly on Tuesday.

The Guardian called the gig “a Taylor Swift fan’s wildest dream.” The New York Times, NPR, The Evening Standard, The HillDaily BeastTheWrapVariety, and CNBC ran stories. (And with this post? It’s me, hi, I’m the problem.)

Here’s the listing:

Taylor Swift Reporter

USA TODAY and The Tennessean/, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK, seeking an experienced, video-forward journalist to capture the music and cultural impact of Taylor Swift.

Swift’s fanbase has grown to unprecedented heights, and so has the significance of her music and growing legacy. We are looking for an energetic writer, photographer and social media pro who can quench an undeniable thirst for all things Taylor Swift with a steady stream of content across multiple platforms. Seeing both the facts and the fury, the Taylor Swift reporter 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 successful candidate is a driven, creative and energetic journalist able to capture the excitement around Swift’s ongoing tour and upcoming album release, while also providing thoughtful analysis of her music and career.

We are looking for a journalist with a voice — but not a bias — able to quickly cultivate a national audience through smart content designed to meet readers on their terms. This reporter will chronicle the biggest moments on the next portions of Taylor Swift’s tour, offering readers of USA TODAY, The Tennessean and more than 200 local news sources an inside view.

Swift moved with her family to Tennessee as a teenager. It sounds like Gannett sees this role as more than a local gig, however. The listing stipulates that “this journalist must be willing (and legally allowed) to travel internationally.” Applicants should have a “willingness to travel extensively” and the “ability to report in more than one language [is] preferred.”

Local news reporters know low pay all too well. Gannett lists an hourly rate “between $21.63 and $50.87.”  At 40 hours/week that’d land somewhere between $45,000 to $105,000 a year.

Responses have ranged from “sign me up” to “journalism is doomed” to “RIP this person’s mentions.” Another strand could be summed up as something like “hm, this is rich coming from Gannett.” America’s largest newspaper chain is something of an anti-hero in the local news industry, doing more than any other company in the U.S. to shrink local news with round after round of layoffs.

“As Taylor Swift’s fan base has grown to unprecedented heights, so has the influence of her music and growing legacy — not only on the industry but on our culture,” Gannett’s chief content officer, Kristin Roberts, said in a statement shared with the Times. “She is shaping a generation and is relevant, influential and innovative — just like us.”

A spokesperson told me Gannett has hired 225 journalists since Roberts joined in March 2023. The company is “actively” recruiting for more than 100 open roles. On Wednesday, Gannett added another open listing: for a “Beyoncé Knowles-Carter Reporter” also with The Tennessean. (Gannett declined to comment on why these positions are based out of The Tennessean and whether they plan to list additional roles dedicated to individual artists.)

Still, it’s been death by a thousand cuts for many local newsrooms and Gannett laid off 6% of its news staff in December. Even with this new hire you could say Gannett is leaving a…blank space where local news used to be.

If you’re ready for “The Tennessean (Taylor’s Version),” you can read the job listing here.

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