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Eric Deggans
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Eric Deggans is the first-ever full time Media Critic employed by the St. Petersburg Times. Before taking the media criticism job in August 2005, Eric worked as an editorial writer and columnist for the St. Petersburg Times, specializing in race issues, pop culture, media and national affairs. From 1997 to 2004, he served as television critic for the Times, crafting reviews, news stories and long-range trend pieces on the state of the media industry both locally and nationally.

A Times employee since November 1995, he originally joined the paper as music critic. Now serving as president of the Tampa Bay area chapter of 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.

In 2005, he was selected to lecture at Columbia University’s prestigious Graduate School of Journalism as a winner of the school’s Let’s Do It Better! Awards honoring coverage of race and ethnicity. He also spoke at the opening session of the 2005 National Critics Conference in Los Angeles. A recipient of a 2003 ethics fellowship at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, he served as an instructor in the program the following year – helping teach media ethics to a distinguished class of journalists drawn from across the nation. As a past vice president at NABJ chapters in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, he spearheaded creation of minority affairs reporting positions at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper in 1993 and the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press newspaper in 1994. He has also developed a training program on racial sensitivity for recruits at the Pennsylvania State Troopers Academy.

As a guest lecturer and adjunct professor, he has taught at the University of Tampa, the University of South Florida, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg College, Indiana University and many other schools. 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 TV industry, music industry, pop culture, minority affairs and media ethics.

Education: Bachelor of Arts in political science and journalism from Indiana University.

Awards: Winner, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism’s Let’s Do it Better! Award for excellence in race and ethnicity coverage, 2005; First Place, Criticism, Florida Society of Newspaper Editors, 2003; Best Newspaper Columnist, Weekly Planet magazine, September 2000; Award of Excellence, Criticism, Mid-Florida Society of Professional Journalists, May 2003, 2001, 2000 and 1999; Finalist, Criticism, Green Eyeshade Awards, Atlanta SPJ Chapter, April 2003 and 1999.

Background: Born in Washington D.C. but raised in Gary, Ind., Eric came to the Times 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. His work also has appeared in the Washington Post, Village Voice, VIBE magazine, Detroit News, Chicago Sun-Times, Seattle Times, Hispanic magazine, Smart Computing magazine, Rolling Stone Online and the MusicHound series of album guides.

He has appeared as a pundit on many media outlets, including: MSNBC; “The Tavis Smiley Show” (Black Entertainment Television); “All Things Considered,” “The Tony Cox Show” and “News and Notes with Ed Gordon” (National Public Radio); “Livelyhood” and “The Calling” (PBS); and “Crosscurrents” (the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). Eric has also appeared on a host of local and regional TV and radio shows.

Eric and his wife Barbara live in St. Petersburg with their four children, two dogs and a house they lovingly call “the Money Pit.”

Blog Entries by Eric Deggans

If Only Mitt Romney Had Read My Book Before Talking About Obama's "Gifts" to Certain Voters

(1) Comments | Posted November 16, 2012 | 1:59 PM

As media coverage of Mitt Romney's remarks about women and people of color getting "gifts" to vote Obama washed over media, I had one thought:

I wish he had read my new book.

Selfish as it seems, that thought came because my book, Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields...

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9 Dangerous Words The Media Uses To Talk About Race

(9) Comments | Posted November 2, 2012 | 12:37 PM

In Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation, (Palgrave Macmillan, $28), I've outlined many different areas of media where prejudice and stereotypes are often used to draw audiences.

From the racial signaling favored by Fox News Channel and Andrew Breitbart to the struggle...

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'Dark Knight' Shooting Shows How Quickly Pop Culture Celebrations Can Turn Against Us

(4) Comments | Posted July 20, 2012 | 2:10 PM

It's an odd thought to have watching coverage of a mass shooting in which a dozen people may be dead and up to 50 people may be injured.

But as news outlets scramble to cover a shooting in Aurora, Colo., in which a man opened fire during a screening of...

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As Herman Cain Fights Sex Harassment Story, This Black Man Pleads: Enough With the Lynching Talk!

(10) Comments | Posted November 3, 2011 | 6:27 PM

Coming from someone who has regularly accused liberals of alleging racism to silence critics of Barack Obama, it was a particularly cheeky turn of phrase.

But, as always, Ann Coulter is willing to go there -- somehow tolerated as a telegenic pundit despite her tendency to offer analysis which is...

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How President Obama's Jobs Speech Exposed the Real Problem Threatening America's Future

(6) Comments | Posted September 9, 2011 | 3:32 PM

Last night's jobs speech by President Obama was the kind of political moment he needed: Fiery, challenging, filled with specific proposals presented in a straightforward style.

But I also fear it was also a gigantic bit of Kabuki theater 00 a bold, promising vision destined to achieve very little.

To...

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The Real Reason Sarah Palin and Donald Trump Get Along

(70) Comments | Posted June 1, 2011 | 3:33 PM

It's no surprise that Donald Trump and Sarah Palin got along fabulously when Palin's tour-that-is-not-a-presidential-election-event pulled into New York City. And it's not just because they are the two most famous people GOP insiders pray never get near an actual Republican primary election.

It's because The Donald and...

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How Sunday's Celebrity Apprentice Revealed Donald Trump's Problems With Race and Women

(40) Comments | Posted May 12, 2011 | 10:01 AM

Talk about awful timing: In a media moment where even straight-arrow political reporter Bob Schieffer is calling his statements about the president racist, reality TV star and possible presidential candidate Donald Trump presided over an episode of Celebrity Apprentice Sunday in which all three black women still on the show...

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President Obama's Birther Announcement Reveals Surprising, Bitter Truths About Media, Race and Politics

(25) Comments | Posted April 28, 2011 | 7:33 PM

For those of us who believe our media reveal deep-seated truths about our society, President Obama's response Wednesday to the allegations he wasn't born in America cracked open a treasure trove of bitter, tough-to-face lessons.

Obama handled the press conference itself deftly, placing most of the blame on...

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My Thoughts on MLK Day: When Will News Media Stop Enabling Anti-Gay Activists?

(541) Comments | Posted January 17, 2011 | 3:27 PM

The holiday celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth is always an occasion to think about issues of equality in American society.

So this morning, I find myself thinking about CNN and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

GLAAD, the activist group which advocates for equal treatment of gay people,...

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Jon Stewart's incisive Obama interview proves he deserved the President's time

(6) Comments | Posted October 28, 2010 | 9:21 AM

If anything comes of President Barack Obama's historic visit to Comedy Central's Daily Show, I hope it is this:

People will stop griping about how such appearances cheapen the Presidency.

Because the President's stop by the Daily Show Wednesday -- historic because he is the first sitting president to appear...

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Five Lessons Big Media Won't Learn From Koran-Burning Fameseekers

(9) Comments | Posted September 13, 2010 | 10:30 AM

Like a wayward boyfriend who just can't stop playing the field, mainstream media outlets often wind up begging the audience for forgiveness when a particularly savvy or lucky charlatan turns their chase for attention-seeking stories against them.

It's always a surreal process to watch as journalists who know...

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The Genius of Glenn Beck: Pushing Rivals to Restore His Ratings and Relevance in Rally Coverage

(137) Comments | Posted August 30, 2010 | 1:27 PM

Days after watching Fox News pundit Glenn Beck wrap himself in the mantle of the nation's greatest civil rights leader for a "Restoring Honor" rally that drew tens of thousands to the National Mall, the point is made once again:

Beck is a master media manipulator.

The rally itself was...

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The Frightening Prospect of Seeing Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin Use Big Media to Rewrite Civil Rights History

(626) Comments | Posted August 27, 2010 | 12:18 PM

For another project, I found myself looking through some of the classic techniques of propaganda, curious to see how some modern media outlets may echo those well-established methods for dishonest persuasion.

High on the list: transfer (linking your cause to an already well-respected institution or idea), the bandwagon (urging people...

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As the Debate Over "Ground Zero Mosque" Grows More Shrill, I Wonder: Isn't This What the Terrorists Wanted?

(483) Comments | Posted August 17, 2010 | 10:00 AM

It was a big old, steaming pile of political mess the president stepped in this weekend -- a surprising mistake for a politician who once seemed so savvy about negotiating tough public issues.

But as I watch cable news pundits and opportunistic politicians hysterically decry the notion that...

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Why Doesn't MSNBC Embrace More Diversity?

(76) Comments | Posted June 21, 2010 | 1:30 PM

Believe me, nobody hates a broken record playing as much as I do.

But what can you do when TV networks keep making the same mistakes, over and over, in a world where progress is a constant?

News that former West Wing producer and longtime pundit Lawrence O'Donnell is

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Obama and the Oil Spill: Can We Tolerate a President Who Refuses to Make Us Feel Better?

(428) Comments | Posted June 10, 2010 | 11:36 AM

I remember back when not-yet-President Obama first tried to strike a blow against the empty imagery that increasingly fills so much of our political life.

This was back when he was running for the job, and declined to put his hand over his heart once when the national...

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Explaining John Mayer: He's a Musician

(45) Comments | Posted February 11, 2010 | 3:48 PM

John Mayer's not the only person in America amazed by the firestorm of controversy ignited by his comments in a recent Playboy interview.

I am, too. Because people keep forgetting an important thing about the cutie pie who wrote "Daughters" and "Your Body is a Wonderland."

He's a...

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As Anchors Change at ABC and MSNBC, Will Executives Ignore Diversity Again?

(65) Comments | Posted December 15, 2009 | 5:30 PM

When NBC needed a new anchor for Meet the Press, I hoped.

After Lou Dobbs finally jumped off CNN, I wondered.

And now, with major anchor changes underway at ABC News and MSNBC, I'm certain.

The TV industry has a fresh chance to build anchor lineups which look more like...

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Rethinking David Letterman: Exactly How Are We Supposed to Feel About All This?

(171) Comments | Posted October 8, 2009 | 2:30 PM

I want to believe Maureen Dowd when she says the whole David Letterman affair is simply about "the erotic pull of proximity." But I'm not sure I'm there yet.

After a week of breathless reportage about the comic's admitted flings with female staffers -- and it's a sign...

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Jimmy Carter's Words Give Media Outlets a Gigantic Excuse to Look Hard at Racism and Some Obama Critics

(206) Comments | Posted September 17, 2009 | 12:51 PM

Thanks to Jimmy Carter, America is having a dialog about race that has been long overdue.

It took a former president using blunt language to get the nation's chattering class to focus on an issue that has troubled some since the first first Tea Bag protestor tossed...

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