NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The party for recently downsized media professionals Wednesday night was hardly as morose as it could have been.
Plenty of guests, of course, helped liven things up. The organizers, the American Society of Shit-Canned Media Elites, had also wrangled a liquor sponsor, Pink Spirits, that adds caffeine and guarana to its vodka.
But some genuine feelings of community, not to mention a pressing need to network, really drove the proceedings. "I thought there should be a place for all the displaced media elite to commiserate together, to regroup and to plan our next move," said Aaron Gell, president of the society. "I have a couple of friends who are applying to law school," he said. "But I know a lot more people who still have this incredible creative impulse."
Mr. Gell himself had been executive editor at Radar magazine until its Oct. 24 shutdown. A freelancer again, he's contributing to magazines such as Elle and Details. "Just hustling," he said.
The society he started, whose mailing list has topped 300 names in about one week, aims to support fellow hustlers. "Through time-tested methods (alcohol, social interaction), we seek to sustain and inspire this beleaguered professional subclass," its mission statement reads. Shawna Seldon, senior VP at the Rosen Group, handled event planning pro bono.
The media reporters in the crowd, there to study their downsized peers, showed various levels of guilt. We bought drinks for a pair of former Wenner Media staffers: Josh Turk, who'd been online creative director, and Sarah Adams, who'd been online production manager.
Their news wasn't all bad. "Freelance is really good," Mr. Turk said. "Companies are laying full-time people off," he explained. You just have to work to get the work. "Networking is your only real weapon," he said.
Ms. Adams, who got laid off two days after the company gave her new business cards, said she had found a new job already. Briefly. "I was offered a job at BusinessWeek," she said. "They pulled it off the table." The guy who offered her the job, she said, wound up losing his.
Back in the hunt, she's finding Craigslist a better source of job leads than sites such as Monster, CareerBuilder and Hot Jobs.
The only option
Outside the bar, on Avenue A in the East Village, recently laid-off smokers got hit up for spare change by a couple different men who probably hadn't worked in a long time. Severance pay would've been the jackpot for them.
Inside again, we asked a woman whether she was a member of the laid-off media elite. "I wouldn't consider myself an elite," she said.
Her job in public relations got eliminated last month. Since then, like most people, she's been scrapping. "I have been doing PR on a project basis and sending out a million resumes and getting no response," she said. "But I am optimistic."
"There's really no other choice."