IF, after yet another week of SNP really-really-bad press and broadcasting hysteria, you are hankering after a golden age of the media – independent, impartial, and impeccably accurate – then don’t. Because it never existed.

Two months into the most sustained assault on the SNP in my almost 50 years of political activism, it is interesting how many non-nationalists – and indeed how many journalists – will privately confide how ridiculous things have become and how out of proportion the coverage has been.

There is nothing new in all this of course nor is it a uniquely Scottish or British problem. What the Americans call the “yellow press” was a subject of criticism from the late 19th century onwards. Sensationalism, exaggeration, misrepresentation and downright lies have always been commonplace wherever and whenever competition for newspaper sales has existed.

In one way, that is a healthy thing. Freedom of the press means the ability to write or say whatever you like within what society regards as legal norms. But on the other hand, it means the freedom not to buy or support those whose opinions or methods (or both) you dislike. Providing there is a diverse market, the consumer can choose.

But Scotland does not have a diverse media market. We have instead – to take the issue of independence as the prime example – a significant mismatch. The thing that almost half the population says it wants is the thing that the vast majority of the establishment fears and actively tries to delegitimise and derail.

Anyone who raises this as a problem for democracy is of course vilified and even more effectively ridiculed.

There are attempts from time to time to change this narrative. Citizen journalism is one of them, but the financial challenge of breaking into established media markets is formidable.

Others ignore the politics and the constitution but still try in a more modest way to alleviate the effects of the dominance of a metropolitan, establishment media view of our world on the actual, much more diverse and much more interesting communities in which they live It is one of those attempts, almost half a century old, which was being celebrated on the island of South Uist this week.

In October 1977, I was lucky enough to be appointed as director of a project called Cinema Sgire (Community Cinema) which was about to start in the Western Isles. I had been involved in some community broadcasting in Edinburgh and I was aware of other initiatives such as Vale of Leven TV which sought to balance the mainstream media narrative with a more local, citizen-led approach.

Cinema Sgire was an attempt to do the same for marginalised and largely Gaelic-speaking communities on the edge of Scotland.

Strange as it is now to remember, in 1977, people living in Uist could receive only one TV channel – BBC One in black and white. Newspapers and post were delivered by plane daily, with frequent weather interruptions. Internet, email and social media were literally unknown because they did not exist.

Cinema Sgire operated a conventional mobile cinema circuit taking in 10 islands. However, we were also equipped with half-inch black and white open-reel video recording equipment. Our goal? To train local people to use it so they could tell their own stories in their own language and in their own way.

Cinema Sgire was funded by the Scottish Film Council and the local council, Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar, which had only been formed in 1974. That imaginative approach was driven by the inspirational Dr Finlay MacLeod.

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He and his colleague John Murray oversaw a web of complementary initiatives including bilingual and community education projects and a Gaelic language drama company. These sat alongside other innovations such as the development of community co-operatives based on the Irish model.

Ultimately, Cinema Sgire’s ambition ran ahead of the technology. What we were trying to do would be easy now, with mobile phones which come with cameras and editing apps. But we didn’t have phones. Nor were there video projectors to allow material to be seen at a film screening.

Much was also damaged and then destroyed by the cuts instituted by Thatcher after she became prime minister in 1979.

Nonetheless, in that short period of time, the tapes that the community made provided an opportunity for individual and collective creativity and curation which increased confidence and encouraged debate.

In 1980, I left the project to start a spinoff, the Celtic Media Festival, which would allow people in Uist to see material from other minority-language rural areas. Amazingly, the 44th festival will take place in Dungloe in Ireland this June.

The videotapes that had been recorded subsequently disappeared but after a variety of twists and turns have since re-emerged in Uist and were transferred to the Moving Image Archive of the National Library eighteen months ago.

Now, having been digitised and conserved (there was inevitably some deterioration given the medium) they are back in Uist, where on Thursday night, the project was celebrated at an event in Iochdar Community Hall. Fittingly, the opening of which Cinema Sgire filmed in 1978.

I’m confident that those tapes will once again encourage consideration of the issues that were being raised back then and are still important, will celebrate local culture and hopefully will encourage more production by ordinary people keen to talk about their lives and concerns without the distorting mediation of those who know little about them.

I hope to get a chance to see some of those tapes again soon.

I also hope the fact that they have survived will do something to make at least a few people reflect on what our media should actually be.

In any Scottish media worthy of the name, there must be a place for every view and a commitment to ensure that we are all heard no matter where we live or what we do.

Or, most importantly, what we seek for our country.