Taylor Swift Aug 7, 2023; Inglewood, CA, USA; Taylor Swift performs for the fourth night of the Eras Tour in Los Angeles. Swift is ending the first U.S. leg of her tour with a six-night stint at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sandy Hooper-USA TODAY

It appears that Gannett — the biggest newspaper chain in the United States — could not find an unbiased Taylor Swift reporter for The Tennessean and USA Today.

Truth be told, it was always going to be difficult to find someone who doesn’t refer to themselves as a “Swiftie” to cover the pop sensation like she’s a professional sports team.

Here’s what the job announcement says on the website:

The successful candidate is a driven, creative and energetic journalist able to capture the excitement around Swift’s ongoing tour and upcoming album release, while also providing thoughtful analysis of her music and career.

We are looking for a journalist with a voice – but not a bias – able to quickly cultivate a national audience through smart content designed to meet readers on their terms. This reporter will chronicle the biggest moments on the next portions of Taylor Swift’s tour, offering readers of USA TODAY, The Tennessean and more than 200 local news sources an inside view.

Based on Monday’s announcement, Gannett decided to go in the direction of hiring a Taylor Swift fan, who also has an extensive journalism background.

Veteran journalist Bryan West joined the The Tennessean and USA Today Network. He joins the Tennnesean’s award-winning music team in the role of becoming the paper’s full-time Taylor Swift reporter. His background includes plenty of professional accomplishments. He’s a two-time Emmy-winning TV producer and a winner of the Alfred I. du-Pount Columbia University Award for investigative work, amongst other accolades.

In addition to being a fan of Swift — and it sounds like West wears his Swift fandom on his sleeve — he’s a competent, well-accomplished journalist with an extensive background. And yet, he also appears to be pretty qualified to cover the popstar.

“I have been a fan-slash-expert of Taylor even when she was canceled during Reputation,” West said, via The Tennessean. “It almost feels like all the roads I’ve been on are merging for this position.”

In an exclusive interview with Varietythe 35-year-old West, who hails from Arizona, compared his new role to being a sports journalist.

“I would say this position’s no different than being a sports journalist who’s a fan of the home team,” West said. “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.”

Let’s rewind for a second, shall we?

“I would say this position’s no different than being a sports journalist who’s a fan of the home team.”

That’s not how any of this is supposed to work!

Not that this is West’s fault, but at what point did we lose the plot that journalists who cover professional sports teams are expected to root for said team? Admittedly, when you’re on a sports beat, it makes everyone’s life a whole lot easier if the team you’re covering is winning.

When I covered the Clemson Tigers, you wouldn’t find me sitting in Memorial Stadium at Clemson University with pom-poms in my hands, though I can’t speak for some of the others in the press box.

A journalist who covers a professional team should know them inside and out, just like West knows everything there is to know about Swift. At the same time, there’s a difference between rooting for a team that you’re supposed to be objective about and Swift, who makes hit after hit.

We’re not telling West how to do his job — and we’re sure he’ll do a remarkable job — but it just goes to show that there’s a disconnect about how journalists should cover a professional sports team, as reporters masquerading as fans seems to be a phenomenon that grows more and more each year.

[Variety, The Tennessean]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.