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.

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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

When Jimmy Fallon first stepped up to lead a late-night talk show in 2009, he looked like a teenager trying to drive his dad's Ferrari: a good kid who was out of his depth.

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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.

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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).

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Monkey See
4:59 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

When Tough Questions Go Horribly Wrong

Girls executive producer Jenni Konner (from left), creator and star Lena Dunham and actress Jemima Kirke take questions on the first day of the Television Critics Association winter press tour.
Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 9:45 am

Nothing exposes you like asking a tough question.

Like a boxer extending a jab, you reveal yourself in the moment, stepping aggressively to a subject in a way that also makes you vulnerable. Handle the moment badly, and like an off-balance prizefighter, you might be the one hugging the canvas after a knockout blow.

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Code Switch
3:08 pm
Sun January 12, 2014

Should NAACP Image Awards Only Go To African-Americans?

Robin Thicke, center, performs with Verdine White, left, and T.I. at The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! in Los Angeles in December. Thicke is nominated for Outstanding Male Artist at the NAACP Image Awards this year.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Who should be eligible to receive an award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People? And if that definition becomes flexible, what does that do to the mission of the award itself?

That's a question worth asking as the NAACP Thursday unveiled a huge roster of nominees for its 45th annual Image Awards — a ceremony long thought to be a way to honor African-American performers who are often ignored by mainstream Hollywood awards contests.

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Monkey See
1:39 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

HBO's 'True Detective' Brings Big Stars To Tell A Brutal Tale

Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey star in HBO's series True Detective.
JIm Bridges HBO

Woody Harrelson has a simple explanation for how he handled playing the same detective over a 17-year span of time for HBO's newest foray into quality TV, True Detective.

"I just took off my wig," joked Harrelson, sporting a beard and his naturally receding hairline for a press conference here Thursday to tell a roomful of TV critics about HBO's attempt to reinvent the buddy cop story.

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Code Switch
11:43 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Conversation About 'SNL' And Diversity 'Just Getting Started'

Meet Sasheer Zamata, Saturday Night Live's new cast member.
Heidi Gutman ABC via Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 1:10 pm

It may seem, now that Saturday Night Live has hired a black female cast member and two black female writers, that the conversation about diversity on TV's most influential comedy show is over.

But it's just getting started.

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Pop Culture
3:03 pm
Wed January 1, 2014

Is The Show Business 'Glass Closet' Collapsing?

Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts recently made an offhand comment on Facebook that revealed she's in a same-sex relationship.
Michael Loccisano Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 10:55 am

Some people insist that Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts acknowledging her girlfriend of 10 years in a Facebook post isn't news at all.

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Monkey See
9:23 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Remote Control: It Was Hard To Turn Off The TV In 2013

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 11:00 am

Here's why picking a Top 10 list of best TV shows has become such treacherous work for critics this year: Quite simply, 2013 was the year quality exploded in the television industry.

Thanks to the simultaneous maturing of Netflix, AMC, FX, HBO, Showtime, Amazon, BBC America, Sundance Channel, iTunes and many more media platforms, fans of great television had more options than ever to find high-quality product whenever and wherever they liked.

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Television
4:50 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Why Tatiana Maslany Is The Most Overlooked Actress Of 2013

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 7:49 am

In a year filled with great TV performances, our critic says the work of one actress stood out above all others. Tatiana Maslany of the BBC show Orphan Black plays seven different characters, all clones raised in wildly different circumstances.

Television
5:45 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Grab Some Tea And Binge View British TV Dramas

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 8:00 am

British dramas, mostly from BBC America, have become gold mines of binge viewing for American TV fans seeking a deep dive into compelling series. Gillian Anderson's The Fall, David Tennant's Broadchurch and Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock are just a few of the series which offer hours of escape.

Monkey See
10:00 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Murderous Intent: Go Ahead, Kill That High-Profile TV Character

THEY KILLED BRIAN THE DOG! Oh, wait. Nevermind.
AP

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 11:42 am

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Code Switch
5:50 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

It's Called 'Africa.' Of Course It's About Race, Right?

Steve Lukather, vocalist and guitarist, is Toto's frontman.
Courtesy of Toto

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 8:26 am

The email arrived with the kind of snarky tone reserved for a moment when the author is sure he — and it's usually a he — thinks he's hoisted you with your own petard.

A bit of back story: Last week, I tweeted a question wondering why CBS This Morning used a clip of Toto's hit song "Africa" under a montage of photos from Nelson Mandela's funeral. The tweet went viral, sparking stories on several websites and agreement from a co-founder of the band.

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The Two-Way
11:43 am
Wed December 11, 2013

How A Tweet On CBS' Mandela Misstep Sparked A Social Media Flare-Up

One more lesson on the power of social media:

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Monkey See
6:06 am
Mon December 9, 2013

After A Full Fall, A Few New TV Choices To Tide You Over

TNT's new period drama Mob City, from The Walking Dead creator Frank Darabont, is one of several shows and miniseries premiering this month.
Scott Garfield TNT

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 8:18 am

As the holiday season approaches, the TV cupboard may seem a bit bare; the industry winds down like everything else, filling cable and broadcast networks with holiday specials, reruns and also-ran reality shows.

But there are bright gifts, too: TNT offers Mob City, a three-week, lavishly produced noir-ish TV show about cops and crooks vying for control of 1947-era Los Angeles, airing Wednesdays.

On Dec. 8 and 9, A&E presents a four-hour miniseries on Bonnie and Clyde, retelling the story of the Depression-era outlaws and lovers.

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Monkey See
12:47 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Zombies And Hope On 'The Walking Dead'

Bob Stookey (Larry Gilliard Jr.), Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan), Tyreese (Chad Coleman), Beth Greene (Emily Kinney), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) on AMC's The Walking Dead.
Gene Page AMC

[Plot details regarding Sunday night's Walking Dead midseason finale follow. Proceed at your own risk.]

This is a strange thing to say about a TV show which ended its fall season Sunday with the death of two children, a gun battle, waves of flesh-eating zombies and a decapitation.

But it is easy to forget, in the midst of all the carnage, that The Walking Dead is essentially a show about hope.

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