An absence of accountability in The Agenda


Some words you won't ever find on the cover of The Agenda.

Dan Derricott, a part-time Students’ Union officer, recently wrote a blog post describing what he feels he achieved over the past seven months.

It’s a long read — about 1,100 words — and there are a lot of things in there that need scrutinising. But since this is a staff blog for The Linc I’ll stick to one issue that is of particular concern to us, that of freedom of expression and providing accurate information.

One of the “achievements” Derricott lists is “Founding The Agenda“, which he writes “ticks the box on [his] manifesto labelled Officer Accountability!”

Perhaps he would like to reach for a dictionary and check what “accountability” actually means. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “liability to give account of, and answer for, discharge of duties or conduct.”

I’ve previously written about the SU’s strange attitude to accountability, and this warped understanding of the concept is exactly what allows Derricott to believe he’s ‘ticking the box’.

When communicating anything conscious decisions have to be made. What do you say? How do you say it? Do you emphasise it, or downplay it? Communication is the selection of certain facts, ideas, and opinions over others.

The SU selects what appears in the pages of The Agenda, they have to pay for the printing, and they try and distribute it to as many people as possible. They are not going to spend effort, money, and time describing things that undermine their position.

If you take a look at The Agenda there is no honest evaluation of what the SU is doing. To sum it up in one sentence, it says: “Look at all the great stuff we’re doing.” There is no space given over to consideration of whether they’re doing the right things, in the right way.

On February 5th the leader of the City Council, his deputy, and their head of communications came to talk in one of my university workshops. The council publishes Your Lincoln, which they said is a way of getting information out that the local press doesn’t consider newsworthy. They say they consider it a newsletter, and perhaps there’s an argument to be made there.

But no one should ever think it can scrutinise the actions of the council, and the same goes for The Agenda — it simply cannot hold the people creating it to account.

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