Eric Deggans is NPR’s first full-time TV critic. He came to NPR from the Tampa Bay Times newspaper in Florida, where he served as TV/Media Critic and in other roles for nearly 20 years. A journalist for more than 20 years, he is also the author of Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation, a look at how prejudice, racism and sexism fuels some elements of modern media, published in October 2012 by Palgrave Macmillan.
He has guest hosted CNN’s media analysis show Reliable Sources many times, joining a select group of journalists and media critics filling in for departed host Howard Kurtz. In 2013, he was awarded the Florida Press Club’s first-ever Diversity award, honoring his coverage of issues involving race and media. That year, he also received the Legacy award from the National Association of Black Journalists’ A&E Task Force, an honor bestowed to “seasoned A&E journalists who are at the top of their careers.” Eric also serves on the board of educators, journalists and media experts who select the George Foster Peabody Awards for excellence in electronic media.
He also has joined a prestigious group of contributors to the first ethics book created in a partnership between Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. Developed as Poynter’s first ethics book for the digital age, The New Ethics of Journalism was published in August 2013 by Sage/CQ Press.
Eric has won reporting and writing awards from the Society for Features Journalism, American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists, The Florida Press Club and the Florida Society of News Editors. In 2010, he made national headlines interviewing former USDA official Shirley Sherrod at the NABJ’s summer convention in San Diego, leading a panel discussion that was covered by all the major cable news and network TV morning shows.
Named in 2009 as one of Ebony magazine’s “Power 150” – a list of influential black Americans which also included Oprah Winfrey and PBS host Gwen Ifill – he was selected to lecture at Columbia University’s prestigious Graduate School of Journalism in 2008 and 2005. He has also lectured or taught as an adjunct professor at Loyola University, California State University, Indiana University, University of Tampa, Eckerd College and many other colleges.
His writing has also appeared in the New York Times online, Salon magazine, CNN.com, the Washington Post, Village Voice, VIBE magazine, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Seattle Times, Emmy magazine, Newsmax magazine, Rolling Stone Online and a host of other newspapers across the country.
From 2004 to 2005, he sat on the then-St. Petersburg Times editorial board and wrote bylined opinion columns. From 1997 to 2004, he worked as TV critic for the Times, crafting reviews, news stories and long-range trend pieces on the state of the media industry both locally and nationally. He originally joined the paper as its pop music critic in November 1995; he has also worked at the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey and both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Press newspapers in Pennsylvania.
Now serving as chair of the Media Monitoring Committee for the National Association of Black Journalists, he has also served on the board of directors for the national Television Critics Association and on the board of the Mid-Florida Society of Professional Journalists.
Additionally, he worked as a professional drummer in the 1980s, touring and performing with Motown recording artists The Voyage Band throughout the Midwest and in Osaka, Japan. He continues to perform with area bands and recording artists as a drummer, bassist and vocalist.
Talking Points: The mass media, music industry, pop culture, minority affairs and media ethics.
Education: Bachelor of Arts in political science and journalism from IndianaUniversity.
Awards: 2013: Diversity Award, Florida Press Club; Best Blog, Green Eyeshade Awards, Society of Professional Journalists; Legacy award, Arts and Entertainment Task Force, National Association of Black Journalists. Finalist, Online Commentary Award, Online News Association. 2012: Salute to Excellence Award, radio commentary, National Association of Black Journalists; Arts & Entertainment commentary, the Society for Features Journalism; blog commentary, the Florida Society of News Editors. 2011: Best Voice for Local Media, Creative Loafing Tampa; first place, Arts/Cultural Reporting, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sunshine State Awards. 2010: Finalist, Excellence in Feature Writing award, the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors.
Background: Born in Washington D.C. but raised in Gary, Ind., Eric came to the Times in 1995 after serving as music critic for the Asbury Park Press newspaper in New Jersey. He also held municipal reporting jobs at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Press newspapers in Pennsylvania.
He has contributed as a pundit or essayist to many media outlets, including: “Piers Morgan Tonight” (CNN); “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” (MSNBC); “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” (PBS); “Reliable Sources with Howard Kurtz” (CNN); “The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur,” (Current TV); “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” (syndicated radio); “Washington Watch with Roland Martin” (TV One); CNN Headline News; “Hannity and Colmes” and “Fox and Friends” (Fox News Channel); “The Tavis Smiley Show” (Black Entertainment Television); “Morning Edition,” “Talk of the Nation,” “All Things Considered,” “Tell Me More” and “News and Notes” (National Public Radio).
“This book is an attempt to decode the ways media outlets profit by segmenting Americans. I call it the Tyranny of the Broad Niche; what happens as the biggest pieces of an increasingly fragmented audience are courted at the expense of many others.”
“If you care about this country, if you want to take part in a citizen’s movement that helps heal the deep racial, economic, and cultural divides tearing us apart, you must read Eric Deggans’ Race-Baiter. No book of recent vintage so thoroughly dissects the media’s monetized appetite for division. Provocative, honest, and smart, Race-Baiter is a supremely important book. Read it and let the conversation begin.”
—Connie May Fowler, Author of Before Women Had Wings