severalls - ditchingham maltings | inside out

"Part of the following was originally written in 2006 for an article in the urban exploration magazine Section 61. Whilst it was being written, the urban exploration forum 28dayslater was generating a huge amount of negative press which showed no sign of abating. With no conclusion in sight, I couldn't meet my deadline and the article was never completed. Now with two years' hindsight, I feel it can now be satisfactorily finished."

"It's written in two parts: 'Why' and 'How'. 'Why' deals with my attitude towards the media whilst 'How' gives some useful points and guidelines if you decided to take the plunge and get involved yourself. I feel it's important to air these points because open discussion of this subject is banned on 28dayslater, the very place where it should be discussed, because they've generated a public relations disaster."

Urban Exploration And The Media: Why?

The current vogue within newly established urban exploration groups (such as 28dayslater) is not to deal with the media (be it press, radio and/or TV) in any capacity. The general arguments against involvement include inaccurate reporting, unwanted publicity, the closure of sites and no tangible gain for the explorer. So all enquires are rudely and aggressively declined.

This mob-handed "Group Think" is a public relations disaster. It's no coincidence that poorly informed, badly researched and negative reporting results from these interactions. The result is to reinforce everyone's opinions of each other, and the vicious cycle continues.

Additionally, these introspective forums can't see beyond their own short histories; some urban explorers have been engaging with the media for years and continue to do so. That isn't to say there aren't pitfalls, or difficulties, or poor reporting; but to blanket-ban any representation isn't going to get the message out either.

It is no coincidence that as 28dayslater became dominant, the number of bad and negative press reports also increased. The melt down was further accelerated by the arrogance and stupidity of the forum's administrators who rigidly stuck to this unworkable stance and threatened to ban any explorers who participated in any media, or who openly questioned their tactics in the forum itself. Amazingly, and in a jaw droppingly stupid move, they even created an "In The Press" section, where they exhibited their poor press like a juvenile delinquent showing off its ABSOs. At that moment, they created a vicious cycle which spiralled out of control during the summer of 2006.

At this point, the evidence was clear. Whilst my co-operative approach wasn't entirely satisfactory, the method adopted by 28dayslater was an unmitigated disaster.

Personally, I believe the media and urban exploration are volatile bedfellows, but can be mixed together if done carefully.

Being filmed at Severalls..