So, was Esquire's last-minute inclusion as a finalist in the National Magazine Awards a stroke of luck for the languishing Hearst magazine, or merely the result of a fix? As you might have read, David Granger's men's title, which used reliably to feature in several categories in the magazine industry's annual exercise in mutual flattery, only received a solo nomination for its work in the past year. Mixed Media's Jeff Bercovici explained that even that was a fluke: the nomination was to have been New York's, until the judges realized that the magazine, an awards hog, had naughtily entered material it had already submitted in another category. So, a lucky break. Or maybe not.

We hear the panel planned simply to disqualify New York, and leave four finalists. It was only a last-minute appeal by one of the judges, Rosemary Ellis of Good Housekeeping, that won Esquire a place. And, yup, Good Housekeeping is part of the same magazine group as Esquire, Hearst. It was a generous gesture by Granger's colleague, and her fellow panel members. Esquire is commercially marginal, and Granger seems to have lost the energy he brought to the magazine a decade ago. Hearst tolerates the situation only as long as Esquire, a magazine with a glorious journalistic history, continues to bring prestige to an otherwise humdrum magazine group. There's not much prestige, however, in a single nomination obtained only by such lobbying.