Eric Deggans

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.

Deggans came to NPR in 2013 from the Tampa Bay Times, where he served a 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.

In August 2013, Deggans guest hosted CNN's media analysis show Reliable Sources, joining a select group of journalists and media critics filling in for departed host Howard Kurtz. Earlier in the same month, he was awarded the Florida Press Club's first-ever Diversity award, honoring his coverage of issues involving race and media. He 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." Deggans 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 conjunction with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies for journalism's digital age: The New Ethics of Journalism, published in August 2013, by Sage/CQ Press.

Deggans 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 – Deggans was selected to lecture at Columbia University's prestigious Graduate School of Journalism in 2008 and 2005. He has 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, Seattle Times, Emmy magazine, Newsmax magazine, Rolling Stone Online and a host of other newspapers across the country.

From 2004 to 2005, Deggans 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 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.

Deggans earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and journalism from Indiana University.

Pages

Television
4:23 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Big Stars Don't Always Guide TV Shows To Success

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 8:06 pm

CBS is planning a one-hour season finale for Robin Williams' The Crazy Ones. It was one of three sitcoms built around big established stars this season, all three of which suffered in the ratings. It raises the question: Does television make stars, or is it the other way around?

Read more
Television
2:15 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Why 'Fargo' For TV Works With Cold Efficiency And 'Bad Teacher' Doesn't

Billy Bob Thornton in FX's Fargo, an adaptation that works by lifting the tone of the film, not the story.
Matthias Clamer FX

There is a moment, deep inside the first episode of FX's excellent re-imagination of the Coen brothers' masterful film Fargo, when a police officer gets a phone call.

He's sleeping next to his pregnant wife. It's early. And the well-meaning but sometimes complacent police chief is suddenly called to the scene of a bizarre crime.

Read more
Monkey See
6:41 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Don Draper, The Truth Is: You Lied

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) has a lot on his mind as the new season of Mad Men gets underway.
Frank Ockenfels AMC

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 7:56 am

***For Mad Men fans who missed Sunday night's Season 7 premiere, be warned: There are spoilers below.

Don Draper finally told the truth, and it ruined his life.

Perhaps that shouldn't have been such a surprise. Because Don has mostly been a master of the lie — especially in the form of an ad pitch. And he never lost his touch: He suckered everyone last season with one of his best pitches for Hershey's chocolate bars.

Read more
Monkey See
5:33 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Stephen Colbert: The End Of One Joke, The Start Of Many More

Stephen Colbert has made a name for himself, literally, as the host of his own show. Now, he will succeed David Letterman as the host of The Late Show.
Scott Gries Picturegroup

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 7:37 am

CBS just ended the longest-running joke in TV history by naming Stephen Colbert to succeed retiring late-night host David Letterman

That's because Colbert, who has won all kinds of acclaim playing fictional right-wing cable TV news host "Stephen Colbert" on The Colbert Report, will now play a new character when he takes over Letterman's Late Show:

Himself.

Read more
The Two-Way
6:20 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Weather Channel Will Return To DirectTV

The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore reporting from Manhattan's Battery Park during Hurricane Irene in August 2011.
Jonathan Saruk/The Weather Channel Getty Images

The Weather Channel will return to DIRECTV on Wednesday, ending a three month dispute which saw the cable channel yanked from the satellite television system reaching 20 million subscribers.

But the new agreement comes with a price: the Weather Channel has agreed to cut back its reality programming by half during weekdays, restore instant local weather and allow DIRECTV subscribers to watch the cable channel on a range of devices in and out of their homes.

Read more
Code Switch
8:10 am
Sat April 5, 2014

Who Will Replace Letterman? Probably Another White Guy

We might have diversity in the White House, but our late night show hosts are still predominantly white.
Brendan Smialowsky AFP/Getty Images

Read more
Television
4:30 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

Your Tour Guide To The Glut Of Sunday TV

Originally published on Fri April 4, 2014 6:18 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melisa Block, hosting this week from member station KERA in Dallas.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel in Washington.

And as we head into the weekend, here's something to look forward to - a logjam of great Sunday night television. It gets going this Sunday with the new season of HBO's "Game of Thrones."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GAME OF THRONES")

Read more
Television
7:33 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Dave Letterman Signals He'll Soon Put Down The Microphone

Originally published on Thu April 3, 2014 7:35 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

David Letterman, the longest-serving late night television host, is retiring.

(SOUNDBITE OF SHOW, 'LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN')

DAVID LETTERMAN: Sometime in the not-so-distant future, 2015 for the love of God, in fact, Paul and I will be wrapping things up and taking a hike.

SIEGEL: Letterman, who is 66, told the audience today during a taping of his late show program which will air tonight. Here to talk about David Letterman is NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. And Eric, why has Letterman decided to retire now?

Read more
Code Switch
6:27 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

In #CancelColbert, A Firestorm And A Lost Opportunity

A joke Stephen Colbert made on his show last week was retweeted by Comedy Central. The joke — shorn of its context because, well, Twitter — sparked an online firestorm, and the hashtag #CancelColbert.
Comedy Central

At first, the idea of canceling The Colbert Report over a wayward tweet sounded like handing out the death penalty for a speeding ticket.

And as much as I understand the notion of using a provocative hashtag to fuel an important conversation, the #CancelColbert controversy mostly shows the difficulty of deciding just how offensive a joke based in stereotypes really is.

And there's a more important question: Once you determine something awful happened, how does it get fixed?

Read more
Media
3:55 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

In The Absence Of Answers, We Return Repeatedly To The Questions

Jean-Paul Troadec (center), special adviser to France's aviation accident investigation bureau, speaks to journalists on Tuesday.
Lai Seng Sin AP

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 6:45 pm

The view from inside a media circus is an odd one, indeed.

But I got a glimpse of the scenery a few days ago, when CNN asked me to weigh in on the similarities between the real-life missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and the myriad of fictional TV shows or movies where similar events have unfolded.

Why are we so drawn to these stories? anchor Suzanne Malveaux asked me in a few different ways, perhaps wanting an emotional take on how the plane crash scene in the TV series Lost or the film Alive could have ended Flight 370's mysterious voyage.

Read more
Code Switch
7:44 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

A Colorful Night At The Oscars. More Of The Same To Come?

The Mexico-born, Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o was one of several artists of color to collect awards during Sunday's Oscar ceremony. She won the accolade for best supporting actress.
Kevin Winter Getty Images

It might have been the most diverse Academy Awards telecast in recent memory.

Sunday night's broadcast was capped by British director Steve McQueen accepting a best picture Oscar for his film 12 Years a Slave — the first film directed by a black man to earn that honor. His emotional acceptance speech was dedicated to "all of the people who endured slavery and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today."

Read more
Monkey See
11:52 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Desk, Set: Seth Meyers Lands In Late Night Very Safely

Actress Amy Poehler during an interview with host Seth Meyers on the premiere of Meyers' Late Night.
Peter Kramer NBC

The best thing about late-night TV can also be the trickiest.

On the fringes of TV's big stage, shows airing after midnight can be a home for invention; a place where quirky personalities and developing talent can try things with the potential for massive success or demoralizing failure with relatively low stakes.

That history — and its potential for greatness — may be one reason why Seth Meyers' funny, well-paced, completely professional debut Monday as the new host of NBC's 12:35 a.m. Late Night show nevertheless left me a little underwhelmed.

Read more
Code Switch
11:18 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Are Americans Tired Of 'Arrogant British' TV Personalities?

Piers Morgan poses for a portrait backstage during a 2011 press tour.
Chris Pizzello AP

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 3:24 pm

When the interviewer for BBC Radio finally reached me Monday to talk about the failure of Piers Morgan's 9 p.m. interview show on CNN, she basically had one question, asked many different ways.

Are Americans finally tired of arrogant British TV personalities?

Read more
Monkey See
2:00 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

On 'Tonight Show,' Jimmy Fallon Looks To Bridge Two Eras

Stephen Colbert visits The Tonight Show for Jimmy Fallon's debut --€” and pays up the $100 he bet that Fallon would never host it.
Theo Wargo Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 4:24 pm

Read more
Code Switch
7:00 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Redefining Hollywood: 'Diversity Makes More Money'

NBCUniversal's The Voice judges Adam Levine (from left), Christina Aguilera, CeeLo Green and Blake Shelton at the Season 3 Red Carpet Event at The House of Blues Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, Calif., in 2012.
Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

If you spend much time talking about diversity in Hollywood, it's an argument you'll hear often: that ethnic and gender diversity is nice, but it doesn't make a movie profitable or bring ratings to a TV show.

But researchers at the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA have produced a study that just might stick a pin in that defense, sorting through over 1,200 films and TV shows to reach a provocative conclusion:

Diversity makes more money and brings bigger audiences.

Read more
Monkey See
11:43 am
Thu February 6, 2014

All Work, No Respect: Twice Pushed Out, Jay Leno Moves On From 'Tonight'

Jimmy Fallon appears with Jay Leno on one of the latter's final Tonight Shows.
Chris Haston NBC

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 3:45 pm

Not many people can say they got pushed out of a job twice while at the top of their game. But Jay Leno, the famously workaholic host of NBC's Tonight Show, is one who can.

By most measures, he should be one of the Peacock Network's most powerful stars; for 22 years – with one small break — he's hosted the highest-rated late-night show on television. Even as profits have sagged in recent years, the Tonight Show franchise pulls in $125 million in revenue, according to Kantar Media (that figure, however, is down from $255-million in 2007).

Read more
Music News
4:55 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Grammy Show: Light On Awards, Heavy On Entertainment

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 3:51 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Well, let's move from the pre-telecast to the artists you did see on TV, if you were watching; the winners and nominees who were on stage at the Staples Center for a marathon evening ceremony. NPR television critic Eric Deggans joins us to talk about the big show.

Good morning.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: First, let me ask you this. With most of the awards given out actually before the ceremony, the Grammys - unlike the Oscars - are not really an awards show. What would you call it?

Read more
Monkey See
2:05 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

As NBC Prepares For A Late-Night Transition, Everyone Is On Message (So Far)

Producer Josh Lieb (L) and host Jimmy Fallon talk to critics on Sunday about what's to come.
Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

It felt like a rerun from a long-ago time, with a twist.

Once again, an NBC executive was facing a crowd of TV critic and reporters, saying nice things about Jay Leno just as he was leaving as host of The Tonight Show.

Read more
Code Switch
10:06 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Is There Room For Only One Black Film At The Top Of The Heap?

Chiwetel Ejiofor is nominated in the category of best actor for his role in 12 Years a Slave as the 86th Academy Awards nominations are announced Thursday in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 2:51 pm

First, let's acknowledge one thing: 12 Years a Slave has achieved something amazing and wonderful.

With nine Oscar nominations, it has proven a brutal story about the worst degradations of American slavery can attract the biggest accolades Hollywood has to offer.

Read more
Television
5:21 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Will Fans Return To A Nicer 'Idol'?

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 7:44 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

"American Idol" is back for its 12th season tonight. The show's huge success gave rise to an entire genre of reality talent shows on TV. For the last few seasons, though, ratings for "American Idol" have been off. So they've freshened up the format and brought in some new judges. NPR's TV critic Eric Deggans says "American Idol" is trying something new: being nice.

Read more

Pages