After USA Today and Nashville's The Tennessean newspaper this week put out ads for two reporters — one for each of the pop superstars — whose sole beat would be to follow the respective singer. It's a level of coverage that is most often reserved for the president of the United States, especially as newsrooms continue to shrink.
The ads made it clear that the stories the reporter would produce, which might be picked up by more than 200 local news outlets, would not be fluff. The chosen candidates would be tasked with examining the women's significant impact on the culture.
"Swift's fanbase has grown to unprecedented heights, and so has the significance of her music and growing legacy," the Swift notice read.
The one for Beyoncé was similar: "The international superstar and icon's impact is felt across generations. She has been a force in everything from how the country views race to how women think about their partners."
Both jobs require coverage of the women's fanbases, too. The reporters would need to travel internationally to follow their subjects, and they would be paid between $21.63 and $50.87 per hour — the upper figure would equate to a six-figure annual salary.
Lark-Marie Anton, chief communications officer at Gannett, the company behind the publications, elaborated on the positions in a statement to Yahoo Entertainment.
"Taylor Swift and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter are artists and businesswoman whose work have tremendous economic and societal significance. As Beyoncé and Taylor continue to influence multiple industries and our culture, they are shaping a generation. Our role at the USA Today Network is to cover the newsmakers who impact lives across the nation in the communities we serve and provide our audience the content they crave."
While the women are certainly worthy subjects — both already have entire college courses built around them, as well as books written about them — the idea had its detractors, critics who would rather reporting resources be used elsewhere. Several journalists, including Adam Benson of the Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C., pointed out that Gannett, the largest publisher of newspapers in the country based on circulation, cut its workforce last year. Four hundred employees were laid off in August 2022, and another 6% of its news division was let go in December.
Didn't you all lay off 600 journalists last year and then ice out filling 400 more jobs? I knew you were trouble. Karma.
— Adam Benson (@AdamNewshound12) September 13, 2023
Laura D. Testino, an education reporter for Chalkbeat Memphis, took issue with the allocation of resources.
Nashville is getting a Taylor Swift reporter
Memphis is still without an investigative reporter https://t.co/lmamf8Vrjq
— Laura D. Testino 〽️ (@ldtestino) September 12, 2023
Fellow education reporter Kati Koka, of the Palm Beach, Fla., Post, echoed several of the criticisms.
I know everyone is dunking on this, but I’m going to add on.
Last year @Gannett laid off at least 600 ppl and stopped filling 400 jobs. People had to wait almost 2 months for their severance, which btw was capped at 26 years.
Local this, local that. Where are the priorities? https://t.co/hHDZdFSu6P
— Kati Kokal (@katikokal) September 13, 2023
Meanwhile, Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Emily Bloch dropped a Taylor Swift song reference, saying that she was "feeling bad blood" over the job listings.
Feeling 💫 bad blood 🩸 over Gannett’s 💰 new money 💰 while refusing to let local papers hire all the positions that dried up or laid off 😢 Notice how there’s no salary listed either? “There’s only so far new money goes” ✨✨✨ https://t.co/GMghtFRoPw
— Emily Bloch (@emdrums) September 12, 2023
In response, a rep for Gannett said, "Since March, we have hired 225 journalists and have more than 100 more open roles which are actively being recruited for as we grow our audience."