One Rude Question for Esquire Editor-in-Chief David Granger

What a Long-Form Magazine Guy Thinks About Working with TV People

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Today Ad Age's "Media Guy" columnist Simon Dumenco kicks off our new regular mini-feature: One Rude Question For... -- an excuse to lob blunt questions at assorted media, tech and marketing figures. His first victim: David Granger, the longtime editor-in-chief of Esquire magazine. Mr. Granger has been working with NBC Universal to turn its G4 channel into the Esquire Network, which will arrive this summer in 60 million homes.

David Granger, editor-in-chief of Esquire
David Granger, editor-in-chief of Esquire Credit: Bloomberg

Dumenco: You're a lifelong magazine guy and long-form storyteller. Now you're working with short-attention-span TV people to help launch the Esquire Network. Be honest: If you weren't bald already, would you be pulling your hair out by now?

Granger: Wait: I'm bald? I've always thought this was a lifestyle choice.

I hate to disagree with you in any way because you're a genius, but it seems to me that TV is the new long-form. I mean, not only did most people sit there and watch all 12 hours of "House of Cards" all at once, but people binge on Season 2 of "Breaking Bad" or "The Wire" in the course of a weekend or a long flight. Plus, there is nothing longer (or maybe it just seems long) than a single episode of "Dancing With The Stars." When it comes to TV, people are now in for the long haul.

The whole momentum of the entertainment-consuming public is moving toward bigger gulps. I mean, sure, you check your Twitter feed, but what does it induce you to do? It induces you to go read something, and usually those things take you a few minutes. On the surface Twitter is short-form but it's often a window to a more immersive experience.

Same with Reddit. Christ, once a Chris Jones or Tom Chiarella or Scott Raab story gets referred on Reddit, you see people come spend 20 or 30 minutes on reading them.

People (smart people) want more, bigger, longer experiences. They are reacting to the ephemerality and the choppiness of their work lives by committing to their entertainments.

Which is one of the things that worries me when I look at the way a lot of consumer magazines are redesigning themselves. Just at a time when people are longing for depth and getting it from so many forms of entertainment, most of the magazine redesigns I see tend to emphasize the quick and the superficial.

What was the question?

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Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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