Taylor Swift shuns and mocks media

Her strategy of avoiding the press has worked, with her new album having sold more than one million copies

Taylor Swift's new album Reputation is the highest-selling album of the year.
Taylor Swift's new album Reputation is the highest-selling album of the year.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • From the moment Taylor Swift announced her sixth album, Reputation, you could tell she had some thoughts about the media.

The album cover pictured the pop star in black and white, her name splashed across columns of newsprint and her face partially covered with newspaper imagery.

Might Swift be trying to send a message about how she has been portrayed in the press over the last decade?

The album arrives after her reputation took a hit in the last two years with multiple public feuds with fellow celebrities.

Then there is the fact that she completely avoided the media during the album rollout cycle. No magazine cover story, no late-night TV chats, no radio appearances.

She stopped by Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show, but only to perform new songs.

So far, her only interaction with the press has been to Instagram lines from positive reviews of Reputation, quoting the writer and publication by name with the caption "thank you" and a heart emoji.

The strategy worked. Since its release last Friday, Reputation has officially sold more than one million copies, making it the highest-selling album of the year.

But not only has Swift shunned the press, she has mocked it too. She made fun of the tabloids in her personal magazines that she sold with her album at Target, with headlines like "Who is Olivia's real father?" (Olivia is one of her cats) and "Taylor drama: Her personal photos exposed" (she takes a lot of photos of her cats).

In addition, in her introductory letter in the Reputation album booklet, she took a swipe at the media for discussing the subjects of her songs - as if she didn't encourage the activity by hiding messages in the lyrics for years.

"When this album comes out," she wrote, "gossip blogs will scour the lyrics for the men they can attribute to each song, as if the inspiration for music is as simple and basic as a paternity test."

Staying away from reporters isn't exactly a new strategy for superstars - Beyonce landed a Vogue cover without doing an interview.

Still, it is notable for Swift, since part of her brand was always being an accessible celebrity and that included the press.

Now, similar to how United States President Donald Trump prefers Twitter and interviews with Fox News, Swift talks only directly to her base, often to her diehard fans in the Tumblr community or in "secret sessions" where she invites fans to hear the album in advance.

As one Swift fan reported: "Taylor literally said at the LA (secret session), 'I thought I'd take all the time I usually spend doing interviews and promos to, instead, hang out with you guys and talk to you online'."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2017, with the headline 'Taylor Swift shuns and mocks media'. Subscribe