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David Granger Out At Esquire

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Earthman, Apr 8, 2016.

  1. Earthman

    Earthman Well-Known Member

    Padre likes this.
  2. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    When it happened, I don't think it was very surprising. Circulation and ad pages are both way down. None of that is Granger's fault, I don't think. It's the story of most magazines, not just Esquire. You can do a killer magazine. ... and people aren't buying magazines the way they did 20, 30 years ago.

    I don't know much about the internal workings of Esquire so this is me being speculative. But Granger was an editor from a different era -- when there was actually money to work with for someone like him. Given that money, he was an ace at doing a magazine worthy of the investment. He would pay it back and then some. When that money is drying up, though, I imagine it isn't much fun for him -- especially if there is and was pressure on him to cut expenses. Which is what I suspect led to the parting of the ways.

    It's a bit of an end of an era. He was definitely one of those editors who had become synonymous with his magazine. Not quite Graydon Carter or Anna Wintour, but he was getting close.
     
  3. CD Boogie

    CD Boogie Well-Known Member

    That's a terrific profile of Granger and the evolution of Esquire. Love a lot of their content, but the overt machismo from a lot of their writers -- who if you saw them in real life would disabuse you of the notion they have great "man at his best" tips to dispense -- could be occasionally off putting. As stated in the article, their website is a fucking disaster
     
  4. I think Jones also left Esq.
    He was tweeting about Granger leaving and I think he followed him .
     
  5. typefitter

    typefitter Well-Known Member

    I did leave. Granger got fired, and so did his deputy, Peter, who was my direct editor for 14 years. So I quit. My last Esquire story is in Granger's last issue, which is May. I'm not the only writer who's leaving, but I'll let them make their own announcements.

    Ragu, when Granger inherited Esquire it was losing lots of money. 2008 and 2009 were scary years, too. But Esquire has been turning a considerable profit lately. Last year was second only to two years ago, I believe. It's making millions annually. That's why that CJR piece is framed the way it is: His firing doesn't really make sense, rationally speaking. We had meetings in the fall about what we were going to do for the next couple of years, and if I'm sad about anything, it's that I won't get to read some of the stories, the big year-long projects, that were assigned. There were all sorts of ambitious plans afoot.

    You're right that there was constant pressure on Granger to make cuts, but he insulated us from most of them. We were paid well, and we were never told "no" to a story because of money. (When Granger stood up to Apple on behalf of Andy Langer however many years ago, that engendered more loyalty from us than anything else he might have done. We knew he had our backs, and for writers, that's such a huge thing to know.) He was really a dream boss, and Peter is a dream editor. I was lucky to work for them both for as long as I did. I've said this on Twitter, but really, I feel like no matter what happens now, I can't really complain about anything. I wanted to work for Esquire more than anywhere else, and because a janitor stopped me when I was walking out the door back in 2001, I got to work there for longer than I ever imagined. For a small-town Canadian kid, that's blessed beyond blessed.

    A couple of weeks ago, we had a big farewell party for Granger—even Jim Nelson from GQ came, which I thought was a very classy gesture—and the next night his writers took him out for a steak. (Scott Raab paid for all of us, which he'd be mad at me for mentioning, but I think it says something important.) We laughed and cried and hugged. We're proud of what we did. Now it's time for some of us to do something else.
     
  6. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I always thought he did a terrific job with the magazine when he took it over, and it very likely bought about 20 years with the brand doing pretty well -- in a way it wouldn't have with an EIC without his ability to know that market. When you say Esquire is turning a considerable profit are you talking about the magazine itself, or all of the ancillary things -- including the digital archives, the TV network, the cross promotions, etc. Because if you break out the magazine itself, I wouldn't be completely surprised if it is a loss leader at best and a drain on the bottom line at worst. Or if it earns money. ... earning a fraction of what it used to. I'm not saying that in a snarky way (please don't read it that way). I don't think even a terrific magazine stands much chance anymore the way it did even 10 years ago. Something like the Saturday Evening Post in its hey day. ... there wouldn't be much of a market for it the way things are.

    I don't know Esquire well, but I do know the circulation and ad sales numbers and the magazine industry generally. I know Esquire's numbers (the magazine) are down. The magazine is bucking things if it is making any amount of money, at least with what I assumed it cost to produce Granger's way. Which was why I assumed things came to a head. It's just a new reality; not an indictment of Esquire. There are a lot of magazines that were decent enough that have gone by the wayside -- they didn't stand a chance. The fact that Esquire is still as strong as it is, says something about the job he did.

    If I am right about the publication itself (and correct me if I am not), you can argue that putting out a top-notch magazine, even at a loss if there is one, keeps the brand strong and that feeds the ancillary things where you can make some money. But I am betting that what they are actually seeing is declining magazine readership, declining ad revenue, and an expensive flagship not being so integral to the actual money makers that it justifies the expense. I am not arguing that -- I don't know. It's just what I guessed the calculation was. My guess also was that that was a problem for Granger. Maybe I made a bunch of assumptions, because I don't know, but it seemed to fit current magazine economics.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2016
  7. typefitter

    typefitter Well-Known Member

    I'll be the first to admit that I don't know much about the magazine's finances—I kind of didn't want to know—but my understanding is that the magazine itself, by itself, makes a healthy profit, and that Granger wasn't allowed to include the ancillaries you're talking about in his calculation of that. For instance, I believe Esquire has a deal with Men's Warehouse, but that wasn't included in the breakdown of the magazine's finances, even though it would have helped, obviously. You're right that some magazines are worth more as a brand than as a magazine (Playboy comes to mind), but Esquire, stripped of everything else, is still a moneymaker.

    I mean, that's how it operated anyway—on its own. I don't know anything about the TV network—that's a relationship in name only, as far as I can tell—and the digital side, as discussed in that CJR piece, is completely separate from the print side. One of the many joys of working at Esquire is that we were asked only to think of ourselves as magazine writers. We were probably some of the last journalism staffers in the country who never heard the words "cross-platform" or "synergy." We had to write magazine stories for a paper magazine that lately, at least, was making a profit. They should put us in the Smithsonian.
     
    CD Boogie likes this.
  8. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    Nice post. ... What's the janitor story?
     
  9. typefitter

    typefitter Well-Known Member

    It's a long story I've told too many times, but basically, when I was on the baseball beat for the National Post, I went into the Esquire office cold and tried to meet with Granger. After a long conversation with security, I was roundly rejected. Walking out, a janitor stopped me. He'd overheard the conversation and told me I should try this guy Andy Ward instead. I should call him. So I did. Andy agreed to meet me, and that was the start. That janitor changed my life, and I suspect he has no idea what he did for me. Esquire moved from that building before I started working there. Never saw him again. He's like the career version of a guardian angel.
     
    Liut, Lugnuts, Baron Scicluna and 4 others like this.
  10. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    Is that the one that starred Michael J. Fox. and Charles S. Dutton? :)
     
  11. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Gay Talese would call bullshit on this story.
     
  12. Earthman

    Earthman Well-Known Member

    Think it's the one with Sean Astin and Charles Dutton
     
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