Largest US Newspaper Chain to Hire Taylor Swift and Beyoncé Writers

US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift greets fans during the MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on September 12, 2023. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)
US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift greets fans during the MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on September 12, 2023. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)
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Largest US Newspaper Chain to Hire Taylor Swift and Beyoncé Writers

US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift greets fans during the MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on September 12, 2023. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)
US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift greets fans during the MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on September 12, 2023. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)

This week the United States’ biggest newspaper chain posted to its site two unusual job listings: a Taylor Swift reporter and a Beyoncé Knowles-Carter reporter.
Gannett, which owns more than 200 daily papers, will employ these new hires through USA Today and The Tennessean, the company's Nashville-based newspaper. The chain is looking for “modern storytellers” adept in print, audio and visual journalism, said Michael Anastasi, the Tennessean's editor and Gannett's vice president for local news.
“Seeing both the facts and the fury, the Taylor Swift reporter will identify why the pop star’s influence only expands, what her fanbase stands for in pop culture, and the effect she has across the music and business worlds,” The Associated Press quoted the company as saying in its job description.
Similarly, the company wants a journalist who can capture Beyoncé Knowles-Carter's effect on society and the industries in which she operates.
Anastasi said the Tennessean already has a three-person music team and “I put our sophisticated coverage up against anybody.” Gannett is always looking for opportunities to make itself essential for paying customers, he said.
Critics of the new roles cited layoffs at Gannett, where the workforce has shrunk 47% in the last three years due to layoffs and attrition, according to the NewsGuild. At some newspapers, the union said the headcount has fallen by as much as 90%. Last year alone, Gannett cut about 6% of its roughly 3,440-person US media division.
Some journalists said that while hiring these massively popular artist-specific roles reflect their influence in pop culture, they do fail to invest in local journalism at a company known for its local dailies.
“At a time when so much serious news and local reporting is being cut, it’s a decision to raise some questions about,” Rick Edmonds, an expert at the journalism think tank Poynter Institute, said of the new positions.
Said Anastasi: “We're not hiring a Taylor Swift reporter at the expense of other reporters.”
Some journalists criticized the job listings for presenting superfan behavior as a full-time journalism job. Music writer Jeremy Gordon said on social media that it “doesn't feel great to see ‘full-time stan’ go out as an actual journalism job.” Stan is slang for “superfan.”
If the hire acts more like a fan than a journalist, the decision could backfire on Gannett. But if the job is done well, and the reporters can penetrate tightly-controlled operations to glean insights, they can establish themselves as national authorities on important cultural figures.



Movie Review: In ‘Deadpool & Wolverine,’ the Superhero Movie Finally Accepts Itself for What It Is 

Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds attend the premiere of "Deadpool & Wolverine" in New York City, New York, US, July 22, 2024. (Reuters)
Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds attend the premiere of "Deadpool & Wolverine" in New York City, New York, US, July 22, 2024. (Reuters)
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Movie Review: In ‘Deadpool & Wolverine,’ the Superhero Movie Finally Accepts Itself for What It Is 

Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds attend the premiere of "Deadpool & Wolverine" in New York City, New York, US, July 22, 2024. (Reuters)
Hugh Jackman and Ryan Reynolds attend the premiere of "Deadpool & Wolverine" in New York City, New York, US, July 22, 2024. (Reuters)

If one thing is certain about “Deadpool,” it’s that its titular hero, for reasons never explained, understands his place in the world — well, in our world.

Indeed, the irreverent and raunchy mutant is sure to belabor his awareness of the context in which he lives — namely an over-saturated, increasingly labyrinthine multibillion-dollar Marvel multiverse which spans decades, studios and too many films for most viewers to count.

From its inception, the “Deadpool” franchise has prided itself on a subversive, self-aware anti-superhero superhero movie, making fun of everything from comic books to Hollywood to its biggest champion, co-writer and star, Ryan Reynolds.

It’s no surprise then, as fans have come to expect, that the long-anticipated “Deadpool & Wolverine” further embraces its fourth wall-breaking self-awareness — even as it looks increasingly and more earnestly like the superhero movie blueprint it loves to exploit. That tension — the fact that “Deadpool” has called out comic book movie tropes despite being, in fact, a comic book movie — is somehow remedied in “Deadpool & Wolverine,” which leans into its genre more than the franchise’s first two movies.

Perhaps this gives viewers more clarity on its intended audience. After all, someone who hates superhero films — I’m looking at you, Scorsese — isn’t going to be won over because of a few self-deprecating jokes about lazy writing, budgets for A-list cameos and the overused “superhero landing” Reynolds’ Deadpool regularly refers to.

But this time around, director Shawn Levy — his first Marvel movie — seems to have found a sweet spot. Levy is surely helped by the fact that the third film in the franchise has a bigger budget, more hype and, of course, a brooding Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.

That anticipation makes their relationship, packed with hatred and fandom, all the more enticing. Their fight scenes against each other are just as compelling as their moments of self-sacrificial partnership in the spirit of, you guessed it, saving the world(s).

Speaking of worlds, there is one important development in our own to be aware of ahead of time. The first two “Deadpool” films were distributed by 20th Century Fox, whose $71.3 billion acquisition by the Walt Disney Co. in 2019 opened the door for the franchise to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, “Deadpool & Wolverine” takes full advantage of that vast playground, which began in 2008 with Robert Downey Jr.’s “Iron Man” and now includes more than 30 films and a host of television shows. The acquisition is also a recurring target of Deadpool’s sarcasm throughout the movie.

Although steeped in references and cameos that can feel a bit like inside baseball for the less devoted, “Deadpool & Wolverine” is easy enough to follow for the casual Marvel viewer, though it wouldn’t hurt to have seen the first “Deadpool” and Jackman’s 2017 “Logan,” a harbinger of the increasing appetite for R-rated superhero violence. The Disney+ series “Loki” also gives helpful context, though is by no means a must watch, on the Time Variance Authority, which polices multiverse timelines to avoid “incursions,” or the catastrophic colliding of universes.

A defining feature of “Deadpool” has been its R rating and hyper violent action scenes. Whether thanks to more money, Levy’s direction or some combination of the two, these scenes are much more visually appealing.

But “Deadpool & Wolverine” does succumb to some of the deus ex machina writing that so often plagues superhero movies. Wade Wilson’s (the real identity of Deadpool) relationship with his ex (?) Vanessa is particularly underdeveloped — though it’s possible that ambiguity is a metaphor for Deadpool’s future within the MCU.

The plot feels aimless at points toward the end. One cameo-saturated battle scene in particular is resolved in a way that leaves its audience wanting after spending quite a bit of time building tension around it. While there are a few impressive stars who make an appearance, audiences may be disappointed by the amount of MCU characters referenced who don’t make it in.

The bloody but comedic final fight scene, however, is enough to perk viewers back up for the last act, solidifying the film’s identity as a fun, generally well-made summer movie.

The sole MCU release of 2024, “Deadpool & Wolverine” proves it’s not necessarily the source material that’s causing so-called superhero fatigue. It also suggests, in light of Marvel’s move to scale back production following a pandemic and historic Hollywood strikes, that increased attention given to making a movie will ultimately help the final product.