“Haters gonna hate,” Lark-Marie Antón, Gannett’s chief communications officer, wrote in an email, replying to the criticism from journalists. The spokeswoman added Mr. West’s credentials “made him the best candidate for this role.” (Mr. West, who is now based in Nashville, at a Gannett daily, The Tennessean, declined to be interviewed for this article.)
April Glick Pulito, a Swift fan who works in political communications, posted lyrics from a Taylor Swift song in response to the hiring: “I’m so sick of running as fast as I can, wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man?,” Ms. Pulito, 35, wrote on X, quoting “The Man,” which reimagines the singer’s life had she been born a man.
“It wasn’t a statement on the chops of this reporter,” Ms. Pulito said in an interview. “He seems extremely qualified. But as someone who works in communications, I think the optics of the choice are kind of undeniable.” She would have preferred to see the role go to a female applicant, “someone so many Taylor fans could look up to and see themselves in,” she said.
The Gannett spokeswoman said the company “does not discriminate.”
In a year when seemingly anything having to do with the singer has drawn media scrutiny, Gannett’s announcement that it planned to hire a dedicated Taylor Swift reporter generated plenty of headlines and online comments.
The chosen candidate, the company said when it launched the search in September, would “identify why the pop star’s influence only expands” and “what her fan base stands for in pop culture.” (The company also announced a search for a similar role to cover Beyoncé.)
As part of his application, Mr. West submitted a five-minute video listing the reasons he should be hired. The first was his journalism experience. Mr. West previously worked as a broadcast reporter and producer at an NBC affiliate in Phoenix and said he had won several awards.