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Another longtime magazine editor is being pushed out — and this time it’s at Esquire. After nearly two decades as editor in chief, David Granger, will exit the Hearst-owned men’s magazine on March 31.
Jay Fielden, editor in chief of sibling publication Town & Country, will succeed Granger. An incoming editor in chief at T&C will be named by early March. Fielden, who took the helm at T&C in 2011, will oversee the title as its editorial director.
“David is the longest-serving editor at Esquire. Nineteen years is one of the truly great runs we’ve seen in this business,” David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines told WWD. “He leaves the business in very strong shape.”
Like all print magazines, Esquire has seen declines in both circulation and ad pages. The Alliance for Audited Media said for the first half of 2015, Esquire’s total paid and verified circulation fell 1.9 percent to 732,210 over the year-ago period. Total single-copy sales slid 13.6 percent to 75,373. According to data from the Publishers Information Bureau obtained by WWD, from January to September last year, Esquire’s pages fell 14.6 to 429.94 over the prior-year period.
Carey characterized Granger’s time at Esquire as “epic” and “innovative,” citing the creation of the magazine’s online archive, its first-ever digital magazine, the brand’s 75th and 80th anniversaries and its 1,000th issue, and its partnership with NBC for the Esquire network. He also touted the 16 National Magazine Awards that the editor in chief won for the magazine.
The executive said Fielden “embodies the spirit of Esquire” from a journalistic and style standpoint. Fielden has worked at a trio of Condé Nast publications, including The New Yorker, Vogue and was the editor in chief of Men’s Vogue from its launch until it closed in 2008.
Crediting his past as a training ground for Esquire, Fielden said: “I started reading Esquire when I was 14. The magazine set my imagination on fire and put me on course to want to be an editor. For that to come about, I’m in awe and a little surprised.”
The 46-year-old editor said he was “humbled” and “honored” to step into Granger’s shoes, and while he noted that it was a bit early to talk about plans, he would work with Carey on brand expansions.
At T&C, Fielden helped launch the Philanthropy Summit and he secured a cover story with former president Bill Clinton last spring. He also expanded the magazine’s pool of writers to include Martin Amis, Dwight Garner, Mary Karr, Jay McInerney and Vicky Ward. Hearst said since Fielden joined in 2011, T&C’s revenue grew 46 percent, and single-copy sales and circulation expanded 12 percent and six percent, respectively.
For the first half of 2015, T&C’s total, paid and verified circulation grew 1.8 percent to 483,060, as total single copy sales grew 10.1 percent to 41,624, according to AMA.
Fielden has emerged as one of Hearst’s power players, and is one of handful of editors overseeing multiple titles; Cosmopolitan editor in chief Joanna Coles, who also serves as editorial director at Seventeen, is perhaps the best-known.
Still, filling Granger’s shoes, as Fielden noted, will be no easy feat.
A revered editor with a keen feel for cultural shifts and the changing appetite of the male reader, Granger, 59, peppered Esquire with insightful profiles and features that dipped into politics, fashion, entertainment and sports, while counterbalancing those stories with lighter bits on cocktails, gadgets, grooming and style. He featured the works of longtime Esquire writers like Gay Talese and Tom Wolfe, as well as Nora Ephron and David Foster Wallace, and explored a host of topics, from war and technology to Hollywood and politics. A recent win for the Esquire team was February’s provocative cover of presidential candidate Donald Trump with the coverline: “Hater In Chief.” Granger recently developed a podcast for the magazine and worked with Equinox and The Mayo Clinic to launch a fitness challenge.
“We’re constantly finding new ways to add to our mission,” Granger told WWD recently, referring to brand extensions and buzzy covers. “It’s key to what we’re doing here.”
On his departure from Hearst, Granger offered: “The last 19 years have been the best time ever to be a creative professional. The explosion of new forms of expression has been breathtaking. Turns out that a print magazine has been the perfect hub from which to experiment with just about all of them. I’m in awe of my staff and writers for their genius and their commitment to Esquire and I can’t wait to see what new opportunities await me.”
Granger’s exit at Esquire is the latest shakeup at leading magazine titles. Late last year, Linda Wells, editor in chief of Allure, was shown the door by Condé Nast and succeeded by Michelle Lee. Paul Cavaco, Allure’s creative director, was let go earlier this month. Also late last year, Condé Nast shuttered Details, letting go of most of its staff, including editor in chief Dan Peres.