Journalists specializing in Taylor Swift and Beyoncé? These job offers divide the profession

The press group that publishes the daily USA Today, created surprise and mockery by seeking to recruit journalists dedicated to the singer phenomenon.

In addition to filling stadiums, cinemas in the case of the latter, will American pop music superstars Beyoncé and Taylor Swift save the press? The Gannett group, owner in particular of the daily USA Todayhas created a surprise and provoked barbs in the profession by seeking to recruit specialized journalists who will exclusively follow, in the manner of English royal correspondents, the phenomenon singers.

The press group, owner of more than 200 daily newspapers across the United States, has cut the number of editorial staff in recent years, and embodies the crisis facing the local press. Last December, it laid off another 6% of the 3,440 employees employed within its media division.

When he discovered Gannett’s very serious ad for a “Taylor Swift Reporter” position, followed by another similar one for Beyoncé, journalist Brad Vidmar’s blood boiled. “I guess this is a good time to remind Twitter that I’m the only full-time news reporter left at my paper, which was sold by Gannett in December.”he wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

His Burlington, Iowa, newspaper The Hawk Eye, was acquired in 2016 by the GateHouse publishing group, which absorbed Gannett in 2019 and took its name to become the largest newspaper group in the country. And at the end of 2022, Gannett resold The Hawk Eye. “They kept cutting staff, cutting them down and cutting them again in every area.”, explains the 41-year-old journalist. “But, of course, now they need someone to cover Taylor Swift“, he quips.

Based in Nashville

According to Gannett, the two rubricards will be used by USA Today And The Tennessean, the network news in Nashville, the country capital where Taylor Swift spent part of her life. The future Taylor Swift specialist, whose position will be added to the three music journalists at Tennesseanwill have the mission of “capturing the excitement of his current tour”which promises for the first time in the history of music to exceed a billion dollars in revenue, “while providing thoughtful analysis of his music and career“. “He will have to analyze how the pop star’s influence is only expanding, what his fan base represents in pop culture and the effect he has in the world of music and business.”

His colleague in charge of Beyoncé will decipher “his musical, fashion, cultural and economic influence» of the international icon, and will measure “its effect not only on the many industries in which it operates, but also on society. The lucky ones will have to expect a lot of travel throughout the United States and the world and will be able to count on an hourly salary of $21.63 to $50.87.

Not enough to convince the New York branch of the NewsGuild press union, which summarized on “make a profit again”: “1. Fire hundreds of journalists 2. Destroy local news coverage 3. Hire reporter Taylor Swift. Other journalists noted that the region still had no investigative journalists.

Telling America

“These positions are not created to the detriment of other jobs”, assures Gannett’s head of communications, Lark-Marie Anton, to AFP. She points out that since March, Gannett has recruited 225 other journalists and that more than a hundred positions are also open for applications. “Taylor Swift and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter are artists and businesswomen. Their work has enormous economic impact and societal significance that influences many sectors and our culture – they are shaping a generation,” she adds.

Founder and director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University (New York State), Robert Thompson also thought that “(it was a joke” when he saw the ad. But after careful consideration, he found that it would be “stupid to reject all of this out of hand.” According to him, it is an opportunity to “tell the story of 21st century America through its most popular characters.”

Robert Thompson, however, understands the criticism in a context of budgetary restrictions for the local press. He also predicts that these positions will not be the “dream” careers that some claim. On the one hand, because fans of Taylor Swift and Beyoncé are known to defend their idol tooth and nail and the slightest negative comment can trigger avalanches of criticism, even death threats, on social networks. On the other hand, because the worlds of Taylor Swift and Beyoncé are well guarded by those around them and difficult to penetrate. Beyond the fans, “the eyes of the profession will be focused on these poor people when they are finally hired”he emphasizes. “Their first paper should be really good.”

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