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Ellies 2007: So What Do You Do, David Granger, Editor, Esquire?

Esquire's editor on 5:00 a.m. days, competing with DVDs and the impossible choice between ScarJo and Sienna

- April 27, 2007
ellies_hardware.jpgLeading up to the May 1, 2007 National Magazine Awards, mediabistro.com is publishing a special package of our popular interview series, "So What Do You Do?," with daily interviews of selected nominees, ranging from well-known to obscure. Today, we chat with Esquire editor David Granger.

See our other interviews with Ellie 2007 nominees: Joyce Rutter Kaye, Editor, Print; Moisés Naím, Editor, Foreign Policy; Jay Stowe, Editor, Cincinnati; Ted Genoways, Editor, Virginia Quarterly Review; Mark Strauss, Editor, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Name: David Granger
Position: Editor, Esquire
Resume: "In reverse order: Esquire, GQ, Adweek/Mediaweek, National Sports Daily, SportsInc., Sport, Family Weekly, Muppet Magazine, various stints of unemployment and consulting at various points."
Birthdate: October 31, 1956
Hometown: Several places in the United States
Education: Masters in English, University of Virginia; Bachelor of Arts, University of Tennessee
Marital status: Married
First Section of the Sunday Times: Real Estate, "which I read on Saturday."
Favorite television show: Friday Night Lights
Guilty pleasure: [No comment.]
Last book read: "MVP, by James Boice. No wait, Everyman, by Philip Roth."


granger_ellies_2006.jpg
Getting an Ellie nomination is fairly common for you at this point. Has the excitement of being nominated dulled at all?
Nah. When people do stellar work, it remains rewarding to see that work recognized. Who doesn't like to be told they're doing good work?

What do you think of your Ellies chances?
No way to predict. Last year, I assumed we'd be sitting in our chairs all night, politely applauding all our friends. We got two.

You are up against GQ for general excellence. How would you characterize your rivalry with GQ? Do you pay attention to what they do, or ignore them?
For a long time now, I've believed that our competition for consumers is not limited to other magazines. We try to create a magazine that can compete with the Web and everything on cable and DVD, as well as other magazines. I don't think people are deciding between one magazine and another -- they've got a whole menu of entertainment options and it's all those outlets that I have to keep abreast of. Plus, I always root for Alan Richman to win a National Magazine Award.

Who'd you rather, ScarJo or Sienna Miller? Also, how has the "Women We Love" franchise grown for the magazine?
That's an impossible choice and one that's entirely irrelevant to the possibilities inherent in my life. I can imagine, though, that each would offer distinct delights and complications. As for "Women We Love," we just have fun with it. A couple years ago, we started doing this long, slow, six-month reveal of who we would be naming the sexiest woman alive in our November issue. It's been funny and well-received. Against all expectations, men continue to be interested in women, and we try to offer some insight in various places in the magazine in amusing ways.


"I can imagine, though, that [ScarJo and Sienna] would offer distinct delights and complications."



What's the biggest challenge of your job as an editor?
Well, the editorial part is the most rewarding part of the challenge -- working with the staff to find ways to push the print medium forward. The more complicated part, though intensely rewarding in its own way, is working with my publisher to move the business of Esquire forward by launching extensions of the Esquire idea and maximizing all the parts of the business -- circ, ad sales, manufacturing -- that contribute to our success. And, of course, both sides of that equation affect each other in intimate ways.

Take us through a typical day in the life of Esquire's editor.
If I'm in New York, wake up at 5:00 a.m. or so, get to the office at 7, read the Times and browse a couple sites. The TV on my computer is on to provide background noise and to alert me if the world blows up. Then, who knows? Some days, I spend the day reacting to the needs of the staff and the corporation. Other days, I'm more proactive and plot out the next issues or the next year, depending on how smart I'm feeling. The key to a good day is getting to talk with the people on my staff. All our good ideas come out of conversation. We're not big on meetings, unless they have a specific, limited purpose. If it's a really good day, I get to work on a story on work with [design director David] Curcurito on our cover and have a meal with someone interesting I don't know well.

sienna_scarjo_esquire.jpg

How do you feel about the state of the industry?
I feel good. We're saddled with a few challenges, primarily in the area of how we distribute magazines and how we reach a new potential audience. And, we may be feeling the first effects of advertisers spending more online. But, I think that will pass as everyone learns how to use the Web most effectively. Right now, a lot of advertisers are feeling pressure not to miss out on the Web and are buying ads in a scattershot way. But that will even out.

Creatively, the magazine industry has more potential than it's ever had and I think one huge advantage we will continue to have in the era of digital and mobile devices is simply our tangibility. Magazines can be beautiful objects as well as providers of information and perspective -- and beauty is not a word that often gets associated with consuming content on your phone.

A lot of magazines are currently trying to figure out the Web. Has Esquire figured it out?
Yes.

What's the next step for Esquire? What's the next step for you personally?
We have a massive 2008 well along in the planning stages. And it's amazing how quickly the brand is expanding internationally -- this year Esquires from two countries, U.S. and Russia, are each finalists for the magazine of the year at SPD. We also will continue to refine and expand what we're doing online. And I'm looking forward to the growth of the publication launched last year -- Esquire's Big Black Book. We're also in the midst of rolling out some cool little things like five lines of greeting cards based on some of our regular features. Personally? I'm hoping to keep my job a little while longer.

Finally, what will you be wearing to the Ellies?
Dunno. Either something made by Frank Shattuck, a friend of mine who is a master tailor, or a tux I inherited a long time ago. Or, something I just bought from Dunhill.


[Dylan Stableford is mediabistro.com's managing editor, media news. He can be reached at dylan AT mediabistro DOT com.]

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