Months after ordering layoffs that shrank local newsrooms, the country’s largest newspaper chain, Gannett, is hiring journalists to exclusively cover two people: Taylor Swift and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. Associated Press

Months after ordering layoffs that shrank local newsrooms, the country’s largest newspaper chain is hiring journalists to exclusively cover two people: Taylor Swift and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.

Gannett posted two unusual want ads this week: one for a multi-hyphenate writer, photographer, and social media expert with “an undeniable thirst for all things Taylor Swift,” and another for a reporter to “tap into stories about the Beyhive,” aka Beyoncé’s fans.

Both journalists will write remotely for Gannett’s flagship national paper, USA Today, as well as the Tennessean in Nashville, where Swift began her rise to superstardom. Their work may appear in around 200 local Gannett papers, and they will earn anywhere between $21.63 and $50.87 an hour.

It’s not unheard of for a megastar like Swift or Beyoncé to get her dedicated reporter, though these postings are notable because Gannett is coming off a string of painful job eliminations, cutting 6% of its roughly 3,400-person staff in December 2022 after laying off another 400 in August 2022.

Gannett staff members briefly walked off the job in June to protest leadership and job cuts, which critics say leave local communities without enough journalists to properly report on government activities and other important issues.

An executive for Gannett defended the pop-star jobs, which were announced Tuesday and Wednesday along with dozens of more traditional listings, including a new climate change reporter at the Savannah Morning News and a mailroom worker in Ohio.

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“Taylor Swift is an artist and businesswoman whose work has tremendous economic, cultural, and societal significance,” Kristin Roberts, Gannett Media’s chief content officer, said in a statement. “She is shaping a generation and is relevant, influential, and innovative – just like us.”

Similarly, Roberts called Beyoncé “a force in the world of business, music, fashion, and our culture” and said: “Our role is to cover the newsmakers who Run the World, influence our society, impact lives, and create positive change.”

As word of the listings spread in journalism circles, plenty of reporters joked that they were penning their resignation letters to apply.

Swift’s latest world tour continues to dominate American pop culture, melting down ticket websites and getting its movie later this year. The singer’s personal life and her upcoming album rereleases have transfixed fans, members of Congress have recited Swift’s lyrics in congressional hearings, and several cities have been symbolically “renamed” to honor the pop star. Starbucks even piped an entire playlist of Swift’s songs into its stores to celebrate Swift in August, according to Billboard.

Beyoncé has been having a strong summer, too, enjoying massive demand for tickets to her Renaissance World Tour.

Swift and Beyoncé are hardly the first celebrities to warrant a dedicated reporter. Global leaders, presidents, and politicians often have beat reporters who exclusively cover them. Multiple journalists in the past have also focused their coverage on specific high-profile individuals, such as Tesla and X executive Elon Musk. In 2014, the Plain Dealer newspaper and Cleveland.com sought to hire a LeBron James reporter, whose entire job was centered on reporting about the NBA star.

Representatives for Swift and Beyoncé did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gannett has hired 225 journalists since March, and more than 100 open roles “are actively being recruited for as we grow our audience,” said Lark-Marie Antón, the company’s chief communications officer.

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