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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4:50pm

Fri June 20, 2014
Television

Sputtering On Fumes, 'True Blood' Has Outstayed Its Welcome

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 7:08 pm

HBO's True Blood, which returns for its final season Sunday, is a prime example of a TV show that kept going long after it should have ended. It's not alone, though: Other shows have stayed too long at the party, including Dexter and Law & Order: SVU. Why is it that some shows stay on air well after they've run out of creative juice?

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6:03pm

Thu June 19, 2014
Monkey See

Hey, Emmy Voters, Stop Ignoring 'Orphan Black' — And Other Suggestions

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 7:37 am

Tatiana Maslany wasn't even nominated for an Emmy last year, despite her star turn as clones Sarah and Rachel (and Allison and Cosima and Helena and Katja and Tony).
BBC America

Emmy nominations are a tough time for a TV critic.

That's because much of the work involved in choosing the best achievements for television's highest award is done in the nominating process.

Tatiana Maslany, the talented Canadian actress who plays a multitude of clones on BBC America's mind-bending sci-fi drama Orphan Black, found that out the hard way. She wasn't even nominated for an Emmy last year, despite nailing the most difficult role in one of TV's most challenging new series.

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5:33pm

Mon June 9, 2014
Monkey See

'Working Stiff TV' — Hey, Meat And Potatoes Are Pretty Tasty

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 12:13 pm

Mary McDonnell stars in Major Crimes, a good solid show that preserves the ensemble created in TNT's more successful drama The Closer.
TNT

Even the snobbiest entertainment fan has got to admit it: Television is pretty good these days.

So it's easy to get distracted by talk of big-ticket dramas like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead or Orange Is the New Black. But the fact is, there's a whole wide universe of TV shows out there that aren't trying to top critics' best-of lists, make the short list at the Emmys or get recapped on Vulture.com.

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8:14am

Mon June 9, 2014
Television

More Scripted TV Shows Included In Top-10 List

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Not sure if you heard or not, but American Idol just crowned a new winner.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "AMERICAN IDOL")

RYAN SEACREST: The winner of "American Idol," season 13, is Caleb Johnson.

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5:41am

Sat June 7, 2014
Television

New Faces Keep 'Orange Is The New Black' Humming In A New Season

Taylor Schilling's Piper Chapman is among the fascinating characters who continue to push forward in the second season of Netflix's Orange Is The New Black.
Jojo Whilden Netflix

Orange is the New Black has always been a bit of a head fake.

Creator Jenji Kohan has admitted she uses the story of WASPy prison inmate Piper Chapman to draw TV audiences into stories about the types of women who rarely take centerstage in more mainstream fare: a transgender woman, an older Russian woman, poor and undereducated black and Hispanic women and the mentally ill.

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11:03am

Tue May 27, 2014
Monkey See

'Mad Men' Pauses At The Half-Season With A Song And Dance

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 4:38 pm

Jon Hamm as Don Draper, who ended the first half of Mad Men's last season in a state of uncertainty — as always.
Justina Mintz AMC

A death, a divorce, a song and dance number and a sale; must be the end of another Mad Men season.

Creator Matt Weiner has a reputation for ending seasons on a melodramatic note. And even though this year's run of Mad Men episodes was cut in half by AMC to set the series finale next year, Sunday's "Waterloo" still managed to close 2014's seven-episode run with a jolt.

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11:50am

Fri May 23, 2014
Monkey See

A Painful But Critical Reminder From 'The Normal Heart'

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 2:09 pm

Mark Ruffalo in HBO's filmed version of The Normal Heart.
Jojo Whilden HBO

Every so often, storytellers land on the same idea close enough to the same time that it rattles the zeitgeist like an earthquake.

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1:13pm

Fri May 16, 2014
Monkey See

This Fall, TV Looks Much More Diverse: Now Don't Screw It Up

ABC's How To Get Away With Murder stars Oscar nominee Viola Davis.
Craig Sjodin ABC

For those of us who have spent time arguing for increased ethnic and cultural diversity on television, the last seven days have felt like a fantasy fever dream.

This week, the big broadcast networks announced their schedules for the 2014-15 TV season during the industry's "upfront" presentations to advertisers. And there are 10 new series featuring non-white characters and/or show creators – numbers we haven't seen since the days when everybody was trying to clone The Cosby Show.

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3:42am

Wed May 14, 2014
Television

How Funny Or Die Makes Room For What Works

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 4:11 pm

Billy Eichner's series Billy on the Street is an example of a project that was developed at Funny or Die and now lives on cable television.
John Durgee AP

When I showed up at Funny or Die's West Hollywood headquarters earlier this year, staffers weren't hanging out with Will Ferrell or taping a cool new video with the president.

They were kicking around a ball.

"The Internet went out for 10 minutes, so we were playing soccer," said one young staffer, nudging around a ball in a set of offices that looked more like the home base of a Silicon Valley startup than a comedy incubator.

It was just growing pains; at the time, the company was completing its third move in four years.

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4:21pm

Mon May 12, 2014
Television

Louis C.K. Takes On TV Hypocrisy, Aiming Scrutiny Back At Himself

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 12:51 am

Louis C.K. in the episode "So Did the Fat Lady," which also stars actress Sarah Baker.
Craig Blankenhorn FX

He's known as an astute comic observer with an unerring ability to skewer the most hypocritical moments of modern life. But it turns out Louis C.K. can also be a surprising example of TV's double standard when it comes to men, women and weight. He complains about his tubby body in part of his standup act. But on his TV show, his love interests are often beautiful, thin actresses like Parker Posey and Yvonne Strahovski.

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