How a superfan landed a job as America’s first full-time Taylor Swift reporter

Biggest US newspaper chain was on the search for someone to cover Swift’s Eras tour and beyond

Inga Parkel
Monday 06 November 2023 18:28 GMT
Bryan West's Taylor Swift reporter position audition

After a two-month-long search, the biggest newspaper chain in the US, Gannett, has finally hired America’s first full-time Taylor Swift reporter.

The company’s Tenessee outlet, The Tennessean, has named Bryan West, a 35-year-old award-winning journalist from Arizona, as its new Taylor Swift reporting specialist.

Starting today (6 November), West, who recently moved to Swift’s home state of Tenessee and formerly worked for local news outlets AZCentral and 12 News for eight years, will begin his role capturing “the music and cultural impact” of the “Anti-Hero” singer, for the chain’s USA Today and 200+ local papers.

West’s employment comes months after Gannett’s search for a reporter to cover the pop star full-time, made headlines.

The job advertisement went live in September, calling for a writer with video and photography skills to cover stories about the significance of Swift’s music and career choices.

On 6 November, West uploaded his video application for the position on YouTube. In it, he gave 13 – Swift’s lucky number – reasons why he should be hired, which included his extensive journalism experience, his ability to shoot, edit and interview, and his self-proclaimed Swiftie status.

Speaking to Variety about the position, West likened it to sports journalism. “I would say this position’s no different than being a sports journalist who’s a fan of the home team.

“I just came from Phoenix, and all of the anchors there were wearing Diamondbacks gear; they want the Diamondbacks to win. I’m just a fan of Taylor and I have followed her, her whole career, but I also have that journalistic background: going to Northwestern, winning awards, working in newsrooms across the nation,” he added.

“I think that’s the fun of this job is that, yeah, you can talk Easter eggs, but it really is more of the seriousness, like the impact that she has on society and business and music.”

Taylor Swift and Bryan West

The Tennessean’s editor and Gannett chain’s VP of local news, Michael Anastasi, told Variety that “we were very pleased with the caliber of the pool that we had”.

“I think if we ended up hiring five more people, we would have highly qualified candidates” for all the positions. “It ran the gamut from veteran hard-news reporters, including at least one very established White House reporter, to Swifties who have blogs and are influencers… and of course there were a number of fans who just were following their dreams and hoping to win the lottery,” Anastasi said.

“But what we ended up with was someone who I think has the great balance between being a veteran journalist who has serious news chops and someone who understands everything about Taylor’s world and the universe that he’s stepping into.”

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