The phrase “Taylor Swift reporter” is no longer missing from Gannett, the largest newspaper chain in the United States. Bryan West, a 35-year-old journalist from Arizona who just relocated to Nashville, has been put forward by the corporation to take on the newly expanded, very visible role. The following information is extracted from a report on Variety.
“I would say this position’s no different than being a sports journalist who’s a fan of the home team,” mentioned West. “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. 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.”
Before the revelation was made public, West was prepared to speak with a journalist who was similarly known for delving deeply into Swift legend, thoughts, and news during a chat with Variety.
“I do think our biggest moment of contention is gonna be the secret Vault songs,” he averred in due reference to the bonus songs on “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” — “because I know you’re a fan of ‘Now That We Don’t Talk,’ and I am a huge fan of ‘Say Don’t Go.’” “When you listen to it, she screams a harmony of ‘I said “I love you”‘ [in a bridge near the end of the track], and that’s why I really like it: It’s the harmony she screams that’s muted.”
The editor of The Tennessean and vice president of local news for the Gannett chain, Michael Anastasi, says cynics were incorrect to assume that the firm posted the job opening for publicity’s sake and wouldn’t be searching for a genuine journalist to fill the position.
“We were very pleased with the caliber of the pool that we had,” Anastasi adds. “I think if we ended up hiring five more people, we would have highly qualified candidates” . “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. 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.”
Adds Ben Goad, the Tennessean news director who is supposedly the immediate superior of West says, “This is not a traditional ‘we’re going to write three print stories a week and draw a paycheck’ type of beat. He’s going to be on video, going to be on social, going to be interacting with Swifties, and going to be out and about at tour stops, on red carpets, at the CMAs, wherever people are enjoying or reflecting on who Taylor Swift is. There’s no shortage of things to write. You know, it’s not unprecedented to have somebody (dedicated to covering) someone who’s a Senate candidate, or an athlete, like when LeBron James goes to Miami and has people just covering him. So I think there’s precedent for it. But also, I think, we’re taking a pretty bold step here, and I’m very optimistic for how it’s going to turn out.”
West confirmed that during his first week on the job, he would be seen walking the red carpets in Nashville associated to the CMA Awards. Swift and West first spoke backstage at the 2018 “Reputation” tour’s first night in the Phoenix region.
“The newscasters would make fun of me, saying things like, ‘We’re surprised Bryan didn’t call in sick to work today because Taylor released a new album.’ I put those (jibes) together, sent it to her team, and said, ‘Hey, just so you know, Taylor’s got a local news reporter that’s a fan. Tree (Paine, Swift’s publicist) wrote me the morning of the concert and said, ‘Taylor wants to meet you. How soon can you get out here?’ I went home, I changed, I went to Walgreens and printed out a headshot of me and signed it ‘from your favorite local news reporter,’ and I sat in the parking lot for four hours until she said, ‘Hey, your passes to go backstage are at will-call.’”
In addition to the obvious photo opportunity, West’s application to Gannett also included a brief list of thought-provoking article possibilities, such as how Swift has affected the friendship bracelet market financially.
“I was at a crossroads where I felt like I could live in this darkness or I could wake up and try and be a better person,” West adds, “so part of that for me was stepping back from news. I joined a local CrossFit gym that works with people in sobriety and recovery. And then I started working for a company where I traveled the U.S. working with high school student leaders — and I loved that because I could geek out and I want to be known for being a good person. And that was me stepping back from news. … And I told them, jokingly, ‘If I could report on Taylor Swift every day.’ So it almost felt like a manifestation when that same colleague texted me and said, Hey, your dream job just became available.’”