Cannes Lions 2015: The&Partnership's Johnny Hornby asks Piers Morgan about the journalism models of the future, and that petition
Johnny Hornby: So Piers, somebody said that if you were to go to everything that’s on this week, it would take three months to sift through that much content. How do you work out what to go to what not to go to?
Piers Morgan: Last time I really was in Cannes a lot was when at I was for the Film Festival with The Sun, in the days of the newspapers and the sun in particular were completely dominant on the landscape of the media. Now, it’s very very different. The form of communicating the journalism is dying out. But the actual quality of the journalism has been dragged kicking and screaming into the next century.
Johnny Hornby: What does that say about business models for journalism do you think?
Piers Morgan: Very straightforward – people don’t want to pay for it. And in the music industry, you’ve seen them decimated by that thinking.
Johnny Hornby: And the other kind of rockstars down here are Vice. I was talking to Shane [Smith] earlier in the week. He’s got a very different model for how he produces journalism and a lot of it pretty brave. Probably the bravest was getting journalists inside ISIS.
Piers Morgan: Amazing.
Johnny Hornby: What’s your view of that model of journalism?
Piers Morgan: Extremely courageous. Brilliant for them and – and there’s plenty of room for people doing that. Plenty of people for all sorts of new types of journalists and journalistic organisation. You know I’m still slightly trapped in the world of newspapers because it’s the one I understand. I look at what Vice has done and I think, yes, very interesting.
Johnny Hornby: If we look at your career over the last few years – your point of view on guns in the US is heartfelt, is passionate … That’s isn’t in search to be entertaining, trying to get followers or trying to get people to come and listen to you. It’s your opinion and it’s heartfelt and it’s strongly believed and I think that is a lesson for all of us.
Piers Morgan: You can’t pretend to be authentic. I remember when Sandy Hook happened and having a debate on air that night and the NRA-supporting gun lobbyists came on, and their only response to 20 kids being killed was: “You must have more guns”. A light fuse went off in me. I just went ‘pfshhh’.
Johnny Hornby: 150,000 people signed a petition for you to be deported from the United States.
Piers Morgan: It was a White House official petition site, and if you got past 25,000 signatures then he has to respond. And the verdict that he gave was that I was allowed to talk about the second amendment which is the one about the right to bear arms because of my first-amendment rights to free speech.
And that was a brilliant answer because of course the irony of the whole gun debate in America is that the protagonist and the gun lobby who want to keep the second amendment sacrosanct do not want to respect anyone’s first-amendment rights of the constitution.
It was a pretty lonely battle, and I’ve carried it on now that I’ve been off air on social media, because actually I have a lot more followers on Twitter than I had viewers on CNN. And there’s a lesson there for anybody in the media: whatever you are doing, we are not on penny-farthings anymore. We are all on Harley-Davidsons on the worldwide web – and if you leave it too long because you like the look of the penny-farthing, you’re dead.