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What do you think of the job of a dedicated Taylor Swift reporter?

Do you think a fan can be impartial? On the other hand, would someone who isn’t a fan have the expertise to do the job well?
Taylor Swift, in a blue floral dress, stands outside a movie theater.
Music fans and newsroom ethicists have been debating journalism in the Taylor Swift era.Credit...Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
Think about the task of reporting on all things Taylor Swift: her music; her business enterprises such as tours, movies and merchandise; her life and the media coverage it receives; and the effect she has on her fans’ lives and on pop culture itself.
What professional experience would make a person well-suited for the job? Should that person know a lot about Taylor Swift, for instance? Should the reporter have a history of being a fan? A critic? A neutral observer? Should whoever gets the job also be well-versed in pop music, celebrity culture or anything else?
Is there anyone in your life who might be good at the job? Is it you?
In “A Dedicated Taylor Swift Reporter Faces Swift Criticism,” Madison Malone Kircher writes about what happened after the newspaper chain Gannett announced that it had hired someone to cover the pop superstar. The article begins:
Everything has changed for Bryan West.
Gannett, the largest newspaper chain in the United States, announced on Monday that Mr. West would fill a much-coveted job as the company’s first-ever Taylor Swift reporter, covering all things related to the international pop sensation for USA Today and Gannett’s network of more than 200 other papers across the country.
But before Mr. West, 35, had the chance to file his first story on his new beat, he was getting criticism from two sides: journalism watchdogs and Ms. Swift’s fans. The objections started rolling in shortly after Variety broke the news of his hiring on Monday. The article included an interview with Mr. West, which provided newsroom ethicists and Swifties alike with grounds for complaint.
Mr. West, who was formerly a TV news reporter in Phoenix, raised hackles by describing himself as “a fan of Taylor.” That remark caused some journalists to question whether or not he could be unbiased when it came to his new beat. At the same time, the singer’s fans debated whether he was a big enough Swiftie to capture their beloved star. Some people in both camps said the job was better suited to a woman.
In the Variety interview, Mr. West likened himself to a sports reporter in making the case that he could maintain his neutrality. “I would say this position’s no different than being a sports journalist who’s a fan of the home team,” he said. “I just came from Phoenix, and all of the anchors there were wearing Diamondbacks gear; they want the Diamondbacks to win.”
That remark did not sit well with a number of sportswriters, including Frankie de la Cretaz, a Boston-based sports and culture journalist.
“Any sports journalist will tell you the No. 1 rule of sports journalism is no cheering in the press box,” Mx. de la Cretaz, 38, said. “It’s one of the hallmarks of the profession. It’s one of the first things you learn. The idea, of course, being that if you are a fan of the team, that you can’t be an unbiased reporter.” The article also quotes journalists who weigh in on how they think Mr. West is likely to perform in his new role:
Though critical of Mr. West’s reference to how sports journalists go about their jobs, Mx. de la Cretaz said they had sympathy for Gannett’s splashy hire. “This is a brutal fan base, and I don’t think there was ever going to be any winning for whoever they hired into this role,” Mx. de la Cretaz said. “Either he doesn’t get respect from the general public because he’s a fan and seen as biased or he doesn’t get respect from the fandom itself because he’s not the right kind of fan.” Bill Grueskin, a professor and former dean at Columbia Journalism school, said that Mr. West’s passion for his subject could yield fine reporting. He also threw some cold water on Mr. West’s critics within the field.
“I think expecting journalists to completely suspend any kind of personal liking for a pop star or a baseball team is probably unworkable and something quite impossible to achieve,” he said. “The key is kind of how you go about covering it.”
My students, read the entire article and then tell me:
Which, if any, of the various criticisms of Mr. West’s appointment to the position of Taylor Swift reporter do you think are valid?
Do you think Gannett made a good choice in hiring Mr. West? Why or why not?
What do you think will be the most difficult aspects of the job? What will be the most rewarding?
The article quotes a social media post by Benjamin Goggin, an NBC News editor, in which he criticizes Gannett for hiring “a full stan, rather than someone who is capable of being critical of one of the most powerful people in all of pop culture.” Do you think that a fan can be impartial? On the other hand, would someone who isn’t a fan have the expertise to do the job well?
If you were a reporter covering a person you admire or a team that you root for, how would you maintain the level of objectivity that is essential to the profession? What do you think of the job of a dedicated Taylor Swift reporter? Is there anyone else you think newspapers should devote such resources to? If so, who, and why? If not, why not? In my opinion, Mr. West's employment is a bad decision because despite his best efforts to refrain from bias in his reporting, it is difficult to not idolise one's favourite celebrity. Likewise, you are more inclined to defend someone that you recognise is somewhat unpleasant, rendering it challenging to make an objective judgement to convey the truth about them. Considering that journalists are obligated to share with readers the real story, this presents an obstacle. Worse so, given how strong the fan base is, there's a greater chance that Mr. West is one of her passionate admirers. Moreover, I think, a candidate for a position should be at least somewhat familiar with the Taylor Swift fandom in order to catch up with trends, so an ex-fan as a report would be perfect for the job as they won't be biassed and know the celebrity really well.
I don’t see a problem with it. I do not really watch the news or reports like that, so I do not care much if he’s a Swiftie. Maybe they just try to make it seem important when it really isn’t. Maybe it’s beneficial if he does a report on Taylor Swift, so it comes out better than what someone would make if they just tolerated Taylor Swift.
Writing about Taylor Swift can be quite a challenge. With so many people writing about her, it's difficult to stand out and avoid repeating the same things that have already been said. In my opinion, it would be interesting to explore other topics or even other individuals. Nonetheless, the most fulfilling aspect of being a writer is knowing that people are reading your work, whether it's an opinion piece or a more objective article.
If he is hired he has to put his profession first over being a fan. It is good to have a fan as a reporter because they usually stay updated on everything which could give more information. It seems like now, very many people are fans of Taylor Swift but I don't think this means hiring someone that doesn't like her or know her.
I don't think hiring a fan of Taylor Swift to report on her was a good idea. The main reason why they shouldn't is because in his reports he will be biased toward her. If they hired a neutral reporter he would be unbiased toward her and thus make better reports. I can see why they would hire a reporter who is a fan but I think it is a bad decision. That is why I think having a fan report on Taylor Swift is a bad idea.
I do not think that should have hired him because it's all going to be biased. If he's a fan of what he's supposed to report on then all of it will be opinion-based and being a reporter you have to be open-minded. If I found out that a reporter liked something that they were reporting on I wouldn't read it because they definitely won't put anything negative even if it is.
I feel like it could be biased. If you were to report on a celebrity you liked or a singer you loved it would be hard to write anything bad about them, even when it’s true. Being a reporter, It is your job to get the truth no matter what, and having a bias over an individual could inflict fabricated writing in your coverage. It is okay to like something or someone, being a Swifty for example, but I don't think you should be in the light to write about that subject and post it publicly for a newspaper company because it's almost certain that it would be biased. They could also make things up to make their writing subject seem better than it actually is because naturally, If you like something, you are going to want other people to like it too.
I feel having a reporter only for things Taylor Swift is stupid. No hate towards Taylor but really, do you actually need someone just to report on her to me that kind of seems like a waste of time. One reason does anyone actually care about someone else so much? They want to know everything about them all the time every day. It seems kinda stalkerish. Long story short I think that this job is a waste of time and shouldn't be a thing it's okay to report on the celebrity everyone in a while but consistently is a bit excessive.
I do not think that he should have been hired because then I feel like it would be just his opinion and he wouldn’t show all of the bad parts about her career it would just include all of the good things that he likes about her. But I do think that she shouldn't have someone who dislikes her either I think that they should be in between where they think she is good but they also don't like some of her stuff.
I do not believe Mr West was the right man to hire for this job. This fanbase-one I am not particularly fond of-is known to be brutal to those who don’t share their obsession with Taylor Swift. To have a Swiftie as her reporter they would definitely be a little biased. On the other hand though, they shouldn’t have someone who doesn’t like Taylor. As they would try to frame her in a bad light. It’d be best to hire someone who is interested in her as a person rather than her music. While many may argue that it is not reliable to have Mr. West as a Taylor Swift reporter because he is a Swiftie and may introduce bias to his writing, I would argue otherwise. As human beings, we are always going to have our own personal opinion on various topics. As such, there will always be a degree of bias—our diction, the evidence we choose to present, etc—to our speech/writing. It is a journalist’s job to lessen that degree of bias. I’m sure that Mr. West, a respected journalist working for the largest newspaper chain in the United States, is very good that lessening that bias in his works. As ridiculous as it gets. Gannet is in the business of selling newspapers, that they even decided to have a dedicated Swift reporter tells you everything you need to know. This is business decision, journalism has nothing to do with it.
This is a fun little article to read about, I must concede. I must say, I’m a bit of a Swiftie, having just recently finished listening to every single Taylor Swift song, but I do not stand with the criticism Mr. West has taken. He doesn’t have to be an occultist to report on Taylor Swift. She is an inspiration and an excellent singer, but she isn’t a god. I love her music, but I’m not about to rip apart a reporter simply because he’s not “Swiftie” enough. Other journalists throwing shade because they enjoy her music is just plain silly. Fans can provide unbiased reports as long as they stick to the facts and don’t get too rambunctious. Most importantly, why should we discriminate against Mr. West because he is a man? Males can be Swifties, such as I, and they should be able to report and relate just as well as a woman could, as long as Mr. West is a good reporter.
I’m going to continue with the sports comparison. A coach has either played the sport and teaches through experience or did their homework and teaches through knowledge. A person doesn’t need to be a Swiftie to report on her, but they need to know enough to understand what they’re reporting and why they’re reporting. A man can come in with no previous experience or knowledge, but he needs to be trained in and needs to gain experience. This is for most journalists, you’re not good overnight. You have to go out and collect data and experience.
I think that the new reporter should be a Swiftie, or be familiar with Taylor Swift and her music. If they are not, they might not know what to talk about or ask her based on her music. If they were a big fan of Taylor Swift, then they could talk about stuff she likes—cats, music, her boyfriend—and the conversation would be interesting, maybe more people would watch. Taylor Swift is a really interesting and inspiring person, and if they got the right person to ask her questions, it would be really fun to listen to. If the person wasn’t a big fan of her, maybe they would just ask boring and basic questions and wouldn’t have fun conversations. She has had such a big impact on many people through her music, speeches, and podcasts, so it would be a waste of money and a waste of talent to just throw this amazing opportunity away to talk to such a loved celebrity and get really good information. If they also had information about other pop music or the pop culture, they could build on that and ask her questions about it. Also if they are a fan of her old music, they could talk about her country music. In conclusion, I think that it is important to have a Swiftie or a big fan of Taylor Swift be the reporter. This article calls into question the stereotypes we have of journalists. Many are thinking that a man won’t portray Swift the way she should be, but how do we know? Swift is one of the most complex and amazing humans of our time and of course, we need someone who will portray her in the light she deserves but also give the reality of the story. West has shown he can separate how he feels from the actual fact and the fact that he even applied for the position shows that he must have a little bit of love for Taylor. We need to take the stereotype out of who is capable of writing about certain people. Taylor Swift is one of the most influential people of our time. She is in the Music Industry because we’ve seen her grow from being a 16-year-old country music singer, to a 33-year-old pop influencer. She is an absolute mastermind with how she’s reclaiming her music while also hinting at a completely brand-new album. But understanding her is such a complex thing that having a whole job dedicated to her is needed. Because we need to see her motives from a new perspective and understand it in a different light.

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