Gannett's nationwide quest for a Taylor Swift reporter is over, and hundreds of applicants who vied for the job are going to have to shake it off.
The job listing went viral in September when Gannett said it was searching for a Swiftie journalist to exclusively report on the pop star for its Tennessean and USA Today Network brands.
Gannett revealed 35-year-old Bryan West, a veteran journalist from Arizona, as the lucky one.
In its announcement, The Tennessean called West a "standout" among applicants, saying he was a two-time Emmy-winning television producer, winner of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for investigative work, and also "a passionate Swiftie" who "wears his fandom proudly."
In a video submission, West named 13 reasons he deserved the job — fittingly, 13 is Tay's favorite number.
Among his reasons were his news experience and accomplishments, that he's met Taylor and is well-versed in her world, and that the official Instagram account for the singer's "Eras Tour" follows only 100 accounts — and his is one of them.
West also said he's a master of decoding Swift's "Easter eggs" and correctly predicted the announcements of her "Speak Now" and "1989" albums, and even had a new big theory he would share if interviewed.
"I have been a fan-slash-expert of Taylor even when she was canceled during Reputation," West told The Tennessean. "It almost feels like all the roads I've been on are merging for this position."
Michael Anastasi, editor for the Tennessean and also the Gannett chain's VP of local news, said the team was "very pleased with its pool of applicants — which included a prominent White House reporter.
"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," Anastasi told Variety. "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."
West has already made the move to Nashville to take on his new role, but his work will be shared across the entire USA Today Network, which includes more than 200 local websites and newspapers across 43 states, social media platforms, videos, newsletters, podcasts and of course USA TODAY itself.
While some may be questioning the position, Ben Goad, the Tennessean news director who will serve as West's direct boss, told Variety that the position is no different than a reporter assigned to a sports player or political figure.
"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," Goad said.
"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 said he uncovered a deeper appreciation for Swift during his recovery from battles with depression and alcohol addiction. He has been sober since 2018 and openly shares his story in the hopes of inspiring others.
"The past five years have taught me so many valuable lessons, like always clean your side of the street — which is a Taylor lyric, but it's from the sober community," West told The Tennessean. "I learned to take things one day at a time."
West said he is excited to bring fresh perspective to the music industry, and as for reporting on all things Swift — he's ready for it.
At the time Gannett posted its job listing for a Taylor Swift reporter, it also posted one for a journalist to exclusively cover Beyoncé.
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