In what seems to be a never-ending reshuffling in the men’s media landscape, Esquire editor Jay Fielden stepped down today after three years at the Hearst publication. The New York Times suggests some of the issues related to the decision may have been editorial.
Mr. Fielden, 49, had a tough act to follow. His predecessor, David Granger, won 17 National Magazine Awards during his 19 years in charge. But the magazine failed to win an Ellie statuette while Mr. Fielden held the top job.
Esquire also lost out on a high-profile story — an investigative article on accusations of sexual misconduct against the Hollywood director Bryan Singer — in a very public way during Mr. Fielden’s tenure.
Reported over the course of a year by two of the magazine’s regular contributors, Maximillian Potter and Alex French, the story went through a thorough editing and legal-vetting process at Esquire, the writers said, before Hearst executives “killed” it. It ended up published by The Atlantic in January.
One of its authors said the loss of the story to another publication did not sit well with Mr. Fielden. “That weighed on him,” Mr. Potter said.
A Hearst spokeswoman said, “We do not discuss our editorial process, but we stand by the decision we made based on our editorial standards.”
We wrote a post about Jay Fielden just a couple of months ago, contrasting him to Will Welch, who was recently appointed as GQ’s editor-in-chief. Fielden’s successor has not yet been named, and Fielden hasn’t mentioned his future career plans.
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Today—after a lot of long and careful thinking—I have decided it is time to depart as Esquire’s editor in chief, three and a half years after I arrived. The issue we unveiled earlier this week—with Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Quentin Tarantino on the cover—will be, it’s not easy to say, my last. As a magazine editor and writer, I've long revered the magical intersection of words and images as they come together on the page and online. Ever since I graduated from college, in fact, I've been working for a big magazine—The New Yorker, Vogue—or editing one—Men's Vogue, Town & Country, Esquire. In the decade that Hearst Magazines has been my creative home, I've also collaborated with some of the best writers, photographers, designers, and fellow editors in the business, and it's been a genuine privilege for which I’m deeply grateful. There is no greater joy—or honor—than the camaraderie of a close and deeply talented staff, and the thing I will miss most (in addition to the great muse that is Esquire itself) is the conversation and debate, the collaboration, the shared life of revisions and deadlines and filling the monthly void. Simply put—their daily company. I have, however, felt the lure of new possibilities—all the more so now, as the means of production for a new media venture is basically my laptop (which also has the first few chapters of a book on it). For me, the time has simply come to press on in a new direction, perhaps more than one, before I get struck by male pattern baldness. When I settle for certain on what’s next, you will be among the first to know. Until then, I hope to practice my piano, play a little more tennis than usual, and make my kids breakfast while my wife gets to sleep late. I might even get to take all these bags on a long summer trip . . . or two. #esquire