Gannett, the largest newspaper chain in the United States, has announced that it would hire reporters to cover two of the biggest names in music: Taylor Swift and Beyoncé.
Amid the zeal around both artists’ record-breaking tours this year, Gannett said in separate announcements on Tuesday and Wednesday that it was looking for two reporters who could capture the significance of their music, their growing legacies and the effect both women have had across the music world.
The two reporters would be writing for USA Today and The Tennessean, the publisher’s newspaper in Nashville, where Swift began her career as a country darling before selling out stadiums across North America on her record-breaking Eras Tour.
In its job description for the Beyoncé reporting job, Gannett said on Wednesday that it was seeking a journalist who could cover how the “international superstar and icon’s impact is felt across generations,” and how she has been “a force in everything from how the country views race to how women think about their partners.”
Gannett said on Tuesday that the reporter covering Swift would have to “identify why the pop star’s influence only expands, what her fan base stands for in pop culture.”
The jobs reflect the frenzied fandom that has surrounded both Swift and Beyoncé, who is also currently touring across the world.
Swift’s cultural resonance seems to deepen with each album, including the re-recordings of her old music. Her fans have spent thousands of dollars on concert tickets and shook the ground so hard at one concert that it registered as an earthquake on a seismometer near Seattle.
At Beyoncé shows, fans dress up in attire inspired by cosmic cowboys and cowgirls, filling up stadiums in silver and glittery hats and boots. They follow her subtle cues, seas of people going silent as she sings the line “Look around everybody on mute,” from the 2022 song “Energy,” and have held up blue balloons to celebrate performances by her daughter Blue Ivy Carter. Billboard reported that her Renaissance World Tour had the biggest one-month gross in boxscore history in July.
Reactions to the Swift job posting on Tuesday had been mixed, including praise for Gannett for trying to reach a new audience and criticism over how the company has laid off local journalists in recent years.
Kristin Roberts, Gannett’s chief content officer, said in a statement on Tuesday night that the USA Today Network, which the company owns, is committed to serving its readers with essential journalism, and that “includes providing our audience with content they crave.”
“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,” Ms. Roberts said. “She is shaping a generation and is relevant, influential and innovative — just like us.”
Newspapers often employ music critics and entertainment reporters, but rarely assign a reporter to cover a single artist.
The popularity of Swift, though, has proved to be a powerful force over the summer, culturally and economically.
A Federal Reserve survey of business contacts reported that Swift fans, or Swifties, had bolstered hotel revenues in the Philadelphia region. Although Swift, 33, and her promoters do not publicly report box-office figures, the trade publication Pollstar estimates that she has been selling about $14 million in tickets each night. By the end of her planned world tour, which is booked with 146 stadium dates well into 2024, Swift’s sales could reach $1.4 billion or more — exceeding Elton John’s $939 million for his multiyear farewell tour, the current record-holder.
Some journalists expressed concern about Gannett’s reporting priorities. Last December, Gannett cut about 6 percent of the company’s roughly 3,440-person U.S. media division. Media analysts said the move could worsen the state of the local news industry, which has shrunk in recent years, creating information deserts in communities across the country.
Laura D. Testino, a reporter for Chalkbeat Tennessee, said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that while Nashville is getting a Swift reporter, “Memphis is still without an investigative reporter.”
Gannett has hired 225 journalists since March and now has more than 100 open roles, Ms. Roberts said.
Robert Thompson, the director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said on Tuesday that hiring for such specific beats “is not as absurd as it looks at first glance.”
In an increasingly fragmented cultural environment, “where mass culture has broken up into a million little pieces,” he said, there is an increased value to the one thing that emerges that essentially everyone can comment on.
“You cannot be conscious in the United States without on some level having to come to grips with Taylor Swift,” Dr. Thompson said. Covering someone like her, he added, is a “perfectly sound activity for a journalist to be doing.”