SNP MP Pete Wishart was credited with causing a Twitter spat last week after JK Rowling, who once boasted about having a “small island” of lawyers to set upon people who upset her on social media, decided to take him to task over his commitment to freedom of speech.

A little lost among the ensuing news stories was the catalyst for this fall-out, which came from a tweet posted by STV’s digital politics editor Stephen Daisley, in which he declared with the utmost certainty from his official Twitter account: “In England, people tweet journalists demanding they hold government to account. In Scotland, people tweet journalists demanding they don’t,” prompting Wishart to ask: “Hi @STVnews is this your view or just the view of the ‘digital’ arm of the ‘STV family’?”

While I’m as weary as the next person about politicians poking their noses into media matters, in this case, Wishart was justified in raising concerns, and it didn’t come out of nowhere. According to reports in the Herald, SNP MPs recently met with STV executives at Westminster, and concerns were raised about the tone of some of STV’s recent digital output.

The issue, which has been more and more observable in recent months and is not exclusive to journalists from any one outlet, is that it appears to have become mainstream to ridicule and humiliate Nationalists on social media as though they’re some problematic sub-species.

While the public expect the media to take politicians to task, on Twitter the relationship between some journalists and the power they are trusted to hold to account has become questionable. Yes, the SNP is the party of government, but that doesn’t give Unionist politicians a free pass on their responsibilities.

Often these days I can log on to Twitter and be greeted by reporters and politicians swapping pleasantries rather than pressing questions. When I want to see the leader of a political party being taken to task over policy, I instead find myself trying to decipher whichever in-joke they’re laughing about with some of Scotland’s most senior journalists. Instead of a hard line of questioning from reporters, some of them are swapping pictures of dogs and their dinner with the country’s leaders.

As a member of the public and a voter, as well as a journalist, I don’t want Scotland’s reporters to be best of pals with the country’s politicians. I’m not impressed with the friends they have in high places and I don’t care how well-connected they are. How can the public trust journalists in Scotland to hold the country’s politicians to account when they’re behaving like colleagues?

If journalists want to swap pally pleasantries with, say, Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson for all to see, can they really be surprised when the public – and politicians – have a genuine concern that their impartiality might be compromised?

The most peculiar thing is the reversal of purpose social media has highlighted; it’s as though journalists have forgotten what they’re there for. While they’re having a giggle with the rich and the powerful on social media, they’re kicking down at the voters like they’re a mere inconvenience.

Stephen Daisley’s tweet essentially categorised Scotland as a nation of brain-dead walkovers who refuse to challenge their government, and it’s increasingly clear that when journalists in Scotland decide the electorate must be held to account instead of the politicians, it is primarily aimed at nationalists.

I can only assume journalists who believe Nationalists are unable to hold their government to account haven’t been following the grassroots campaigns which have been going on for months, years even, over things like the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, legislation introduced by the SNP; or fracking, where campaigners are heaping pressure on the Scottish Government to slap on a ban; or more recently the Named Person legislation and changes to education, which many SNP supporters and Nationalists have challenged the Scottish Government vigorously on.

Rather, on social media, there’s a culture emerging among journalists of derision for their own audiences.

Journalists often shy away from holding themselves and each other to account, but they can’t be above accountability when they play such a vital role in shaping the political narrative of the day. In Scotland, a big problem remains in the relationship between journalists and their audiences, and audiences are right to be angry at the way they’re so flippantly labelled.

It’s just unfortunate that JK Rowling – who made a £1m donation to the Better Together campaign in 2014 – soaked up the spotlight in this case and deflected from an issue we need to be more honest about.