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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9:31am

Thu November 20, 2014
Performing Arts

Mike Nichols, Award-Winning Director Of 'The Graduate,' 'Silkwood,' Dies

Mike Nichols was an ultimate Hollywood insider who won every major show business award directing for stage, film and TV. But his life in America began as an immigrant from Germany. Nichols was honored with an AFI Life Achievement Award in June 2010.
Kevin Winter Getty Images for AFI

3:35pm

Mon November 17, 2014
Television

Bill Cosby's Silence On Rape Allegations Makes Huge Media Noise

Originally published on Sat November 22, 2014 5:29 pm

Bill Cosby speaks at a press conference about African- American art on Nov. 6.
Evan Vucci AP

This may be the first time in a long while that Bill Cosby can't control the public conversation about Bill Cosby.

Read the recent biography Cosby: His Life and Times, and you see a portrait of a talented performer who took control of his business and career interests early on, forever suspicious of journalists and industry executives who might try to interfere.

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4:08pm

Wed November 12, 2014
Television

Farewell To Randy Jackson, An Example Of All That Ails 'American Idol'

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 5:09 pm

Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell, the original judges on Fox's American Idol.
Michael Becker AP

Look up "show business survivor" on the Google machine, and you're likely to find a picture of Randy Jackson staring back at you.

That's a curious thought, as news breaks that Jackson is leaving Fox's American Idol singing competition after 13 years as a judge and mentor — the second-to-last person from the show's inaugural season left on the show, besides host Ryan Seacrest.

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4:03pm

Fri November 7, 2014
Television

As A New 'Doctor Who' Season Ends, Have Its Stories Matched The Hero?

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 6:21 pm

Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman star in the BBC series Doctor Who.
Ray Burmiston/Ali BBC

It was, perhaps, one of the biggest gambles on television this year. And it has worked out beautifully.

British character actor extraordinaire Peter Capaldi stepped into the shoes of the biggest character in science-fiction TV, the Doctor, alien star of the BBC's Doctor Who. And his portrayal of a morally conflicted, intensely knowledgeable, occasionally ruthless 2,000-year-old Time Lord has added new depth to television's longest-running science-fiction series.

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1:11pm

Wed November 5, 2014
Television

'Daily Show', 'Colbert' Strain To Lampoon Democratic Losses

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 1:17 am

Jon Stewart (from left) and Stephen Colbert hosted live editions of their programs, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, on Tuesday.
Comedy Central

Jon Stewart may be the only media figure who started his election coverage Tuesday with an apology.

"I did vote today ... I was being flip and it kind of took off," said Stewart, who had told CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour in an interview earlier Tuesday that he wasn't voting because he "had just moved, and I don't even know where my thing is." The comment sparked loads of stories about how the comedian wasn't voting in an election he had been talking about for months.

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1:25am

Tue November 4, 2014
Television

'Sherlock' Star Benedict Cumberbatch: Show's Last Season 'Really Freudian'

Originally published on Tue November 4, 2014 10:35 am

Benedict Cumberbatch, right, and Martin Freeman star as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson on the BBC's crime drama Sherlock.
Robert Viglasky © Hartswood Films

When I sat down with Benedict Cumberbatch to talk about Sherlock, the first thing on his mind wasn't exactly the show.

"I'm really worried about those Sherlock fans, because they have been here, probably, for a while," Cumberbatch says to his assistants, asking them to tell a small clutch of fans waiting outside the hotel where we were meeting that he would stop by to see them soon.

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12:22pm

Mon November 3, 2014
Television

HBO's 'Olive Kitteridge' May Be The Best Depiction Of Marriage On TV

Originally published on Mon November 3, 2014 2:44 pm

Frances McDormand, left, stars with Richard Jenkins, right and Devin McKenzie Druid in HBO's Olive Kitteridge.
Jojo Whilden HBO

Marriages, especially long ones, are among the most complex and misunderstood relationships regularly depicted on television.

On the small screen, marriages are usually static things; they are good or bad and continue along in whatever way is needed to further the week's plotlines, from Mike and Carol Brady's upbeat union to Walt and Skyler White's perpetually doomed partnership. But marriage veterans know it's often a complicated, evolving thing, as two people negotiate a continued relationship even as time and circumstance transform them into different people.

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12:15pm

Thu October 30, 2014
Television

Can Shows Like 'The McCarthys' Replace CBS' 'Thursday Night Football'?

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 2:47 pm

Tyler Ritter (center) stars in CBS's The McCarthys with, clockwise from top left, Jack McGee, Laurie Metcalf, Jimmy Dunn, Joey McIntyre and Kelen Coleman.
Monty Brinton CBS

Five weeks after the fall TV season started, the broadcast networks are still cranking out new shows.

And in the case of CBS's The McCarthys, you may wish they had stopped a bit sooner.

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3:15am

Tue October 21, 2014
Monkey See

Winners And Losers Of The Fall TV Season Begin To Emerge

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 7:34 am

Debra Messing stars with Robert Klein in NBC's The Mysteries of Laura.
Will Hart/NBC

What's most amazing about this point in the TV season is what hasn't happened yet.

One month into the new season, no new fall TV show has yet been canceled.

(By this point last year, several shows had already been put out of our misery, including ABC's Lucky 7 and NBC's Ironside remake.)

Still, despite programmers' patience this year, there are still lots of clues about what's working this TV season and what isn't. Here's a peek at what we know so far about the current TV season.

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3:24pm

Sun October 19, 2014
Code Switch

The Boston Herald's Missed 'Cartoongate' Lessons

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 8:38 am

The Boston Herald published this cartoon earlier this month.
The Boston Herald

The worst fate of all may be to make a terrible mistake and then learn the wrong lessons from the experience.

That's the thought I had reading a heartfelt column about the Boston Herald's unfortunate decision to publish a cartoon featuring a White House gate-crasher asking the nation's first black president if he had "tried the new watermelon flavored toothpaste."

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5:45am

Sat October 11, 2014
Television

AMC's 'The Walking Dead' Is A Hit Show With Two Meanings

Originally published on Sat October 11, 2014 12:20 pm

Andrew Lincoln, left, and Norman Reedus star in AMC's The Walking Dead.
Frank Ockenfels AMC

The Walking Dead is so successful – it's TV's most popular show with young viewers and cable television's highest-rated drama – that AMC has already picked it up for a sixth season, days before the fifth season starts Sunday.

And it returns this fall with a bloody, explicit answer to a troubling question from last season:

What is the deal with the people in this place called Terminus?

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2:22pm

Tue October 7, 2014
Television

'The Flash' And 'Gotham' Succeed By Taking Comic Book Stories Seriously

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 12:03 pm

Grant Gustin as Barry Allen/The Flash on The CW's The Flash.
Jack Rowand The CW

As The CW's new superhero series The Flash debuts tonight, it seems there are more TV shows based on comic books in prime time than ever before.

And a look at two of the best new network TV dramas this fall also reveals two different ways to tell superhero stories on television, both with wonderful results.

It's tough to find a more traditional superhero story than The CW's take on The Flash, which opens with a voice over from the hero himself:

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3:52am

Sun October 5, 2014
Monkey See

Showtime's 'Homeland' Now Depends On Carrie Mathison As Flawed Hero

Claire Danes, right, plays CIA station chief Carrie Mathison with Alex Lanipekun on Showtime's Homeland.
Joe Alblas Showtime

(Be warned: There are spoilers ahead, particularly if you haven't watched all of Homeland's third season yet.)

Showtime's widely-lauded terrorism drama Homeland returns Sunday facing a curious question for a show starting its fourth season.

What, exactly, is this series about now?

That was the biggest issue left by the death last year of Damian Lewis' supremely dysfunctional soldier-turned-terrorist-turned-doomed hero Nicholas Brody. And it's not clear if producers have found an answer yet.

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11:00am

Thu October 2, 2014
Monkey See

Fox's 'Gracepoint': An American Remake Best Viewed With Fresh Eyes

David Tennant, left, and Anna Gunn star in the Fox TV crime drama, Gracepoint.
Ed Araquel Fox TV

Even though some TV critics hate Fox's new crime drama Gracepoint, you just might love it.

And that mostly depends on one thing: Whether you've seen the British TV series it's based on, Broadchurch.

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3:10am

Wed October 1, 2014
Television

FX's 'The Bridge' Finds Authenticity In Spanish-Language Scenes

Originally published on Wed October 1, 2014 7:06 am

Demian Bichir, left, and Diane Kruger star in FX's cross-border crime drama The Bridge.
Bryon Cohen AP

It's the best show that you're probably not watching.

As FX's The Bridge ends its ratings-challenged second season Wednesday, it has told a sprawling story about two detectives — one in El Paso, Texas, and one in Juarez, Mexico — pursuing a Mexican drug cartel.

This year, much of the story has centered on reluctant hero and Mexican police detective Marco Ruiz, who's chasing cartel boss Fausto Galvan. Almost all of those moments are filmed in Spanish, helping flesh out characters who tend to remain mere stereotypes in other shows.

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1:37pm

Fri September 26, 2014
Monkey See

Gilligan's Island At 50: A Goofy Show From A Time Of TV Innocence

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 4:23 pm

The cast of Gilligan's Island (clockwise from top left): Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, Tina Louise, Alan Hale Jr., Dawn Wells, Bob Denver, Russell Johnson
CBS/Landov

It was 50 years ago today (Friday, Sept. 26) that the world was introduced to what may have been the oddest idea around for a TV comedy until Hogan's Heroes cracked jokes in a German prisoner of war camp a year later.

Yes, Hollywood wanted to make America laugh about seven people who got marooned on a tropical island. And that oddly endearing show celebrating its golden anniversary had an unlikely name: Gilligan's Island.

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2:27pm

Wed September 24, 2014
Television

Network TV's Fall Lineup Distinguished By Diversity

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 4:14 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

6:16am

Tue September 23, 2014
Code Switch

How Not To Handle A New Voice In TV

Originally published on Thu September 25, 2014 10:26 am

Shonda Rhimes (left) with Scandal star Kerry Washington at a 2012 press conference.
Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

This is what happens when voices that have normally been pushed to the background take center stage.

That's the reaction I usually offer these days whenever someone asks me about a race-based media firestorm — this time, in reference to the nuclear-sized backlash against New York Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley's bewildering commentary on Shonda Rhimes, one of the most successful showrunners in television history.

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8:33am

Mon September 22, 2014
Monkey See

Deggans Picks 'Gotham,' 'Black-ish,' 'The Flash' Among Fall TV's Best

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 8:20 am

Ben McKenzie (front right) and Donal Logue (left) lead the cast of Fox's Batman prequel Gotham.
Fox TV

2:16pm

Fri September 19, 2014
Code Switch

Examining Bill Cosby's Legacy As 'The Cosby Show' Turns 30

Originally published on Fri September 19, 2014 4:59 pm

The Cosby Show starred Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad as Cliff and Clair Huxtable, an upper-middle-class couple in New York. Tempestt Bledsoe, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Lisa Bonet and Keshia Knight Pulliam played four of their five children.
Frank Carroll AP

The Cosby Show celebrates its 30th birthday on Saturday.

It was a monster hit inspired by the comedy and life experiences of its star, Bill Cosby, as shown in the new biography Cosby: His Life and Times. In the book, author Mark Whitaker makes a strong argument that Cosby's comedic style and approach to race issues turned The Cosby Show into television's most quietly subversive program.

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