There is chaos at Esquire, as the entire top of the masthead has either resigned or been let go following the resignation of Editor-in-Chief Jay Fielden last week.
Bruce Handy, features editor, who one source said was the choice of Hearst Chief Content Officer Kate Lewis to be interim editor after Fielden’s resignation on May 30, instead turned it down and resigned when Fielden told staffers he planned to leave.
Michael Hainey, the No. 2 as executive director of editorial, was in Cannes the day Fielden resigned. Earlier this year, he had turned down the Gawker reboot job that eventually went to Dan Peres. As soon as Hainey returned from France, he resigned. Helene Rubinstein, the number three who carries the title editorial director, is also said to be exiting.
The newest rumor on a potential replacement for the top job is Michael Sebastian, who is running Esquire.com. He could not be reached for comment.
More staff cuts on June 5 only further fueled the rumor that Esquire, which in 2019 cut back to eight issues from monthly, will reduce its print issues further, possibly to six times or quarterly next year, in favor of a more digital and video-oriented strategy for the future.
Whoever takes over will have a lot of rebuilding to do. So far, the only editors among the upper echelon to survive are Fashion Director Nick Sullivan and Managing Editor John Kenney. Neither of them is rumored for the top job.
A least six full-time staffers and many of the regular freelance writers were told their days were over this week. Among that tier of departures: Raul Aguila, design director; Emily Poenisch, entertainment features director; Matthew Marden, style director; Ryan Lizza, chief political correspondent; Bob Mankoff, cartoon and humor editor; Ash Carter, senior editor; and contract writer Maximillian Potter; as well as writers at large Alex French and Stephen Rodrick.
Esquire was rocked late last year when Hearst Magazines President Troy Young and Lewis decided to kill a story on years of alleged sexually predatory behavior by prominent Hollywood director Bryan Singer, who directed “X-Men” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Singer denied the claims.
Killing the story created a lot of anger directed at Young and Lewis. “The mood had been getting more and more dismal even before the Bryan Singer thing exploded,” said a source.
While corporate sees digital as the future, the source said that many editorial veterans were angry that they were kept apart from the digital.
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