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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.

Deggans is also currently a media analyst/contributor for MSNBC and NBC News. In August 2013, he 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. The same month, Deggans 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." And in 2019, he was named winner of the American Sociological Association's Excellence in the Reporting of Social Justice Issues Award.

In 2019, Deggans served as the first African American chairman of 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.

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.

Experienced critics know: sometimes it pays to be skeptical of TV show revivals that try to make an old series feel fresh by changing the race of the main characters.

But ABC's Black-centered reimagining of TV's classic exercise in nostalgia, The Wonder Years, avoids that pitfall for a simple reason. The year in which it is set, 1968, was one of the most pivotal times for Black America in recent history.

It's time to find something good to watch.

Maybe you didn't have exactly the hot vaccinated summer we were all hoping for. While we can't fix the big stuff, our critics do have good news about staying entertained — and challenged, and invigorated, and curious.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


And finally today, we remember that most people experienced the 9/11 attacks through television, especially TV news. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says, in the 20 years since, it's also shaped television.

There is a long list of ways America was transformed by the terrorist attacks that destroyed the Twin Towers on 9/11/2001. But the question of how TV itself was changed – particularly in ways still relevant today – is more complicated.

CNBC anchor Shepard Smith, who covered the attack and its aftermath when he worked at Fox News Channel, points to a small but impactful TV innovation: the constant presence of an onscreen news ticker, scrolling through headlines, on cable news channels.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Emmy-nominated actor Michael K. Williams has died at the age of 54. NPR's TV critic Eric Deggans says Williams, featured in series like "Lovecraft Country" and "Boardwalk Empire," was a consummate character actor. He's here to remember him with us.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Here's what I found most impressive about FX's Impeachment: American Crime Story — though Monica Lewinsky is a producer on the show, even she doesn't get out of this tale unscathed.

This is tough to admit now, but any good appreciation is grounded in honesty, so here goes:

I used to be one of those drummers who thought the Rolling Stones' Charlie Watts was overrated.

Proof of my horrendous mistake in such thinking flooded social media Tuesday, as superstar musicians such as Elton John, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Joan Jett, Bruce Springsteen drummer Max Weinberg and Public Enemy frontman Chuck D paid tribute to Watts, who died Tuesday in London of an undisclosed illness. He was 80.

As the trial of disgraced R&B superstar R. Kelly unfolds, it's tough to imagine reaching this moment without the 2019 Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly.

That's because the six-part project seemed to transform public opinion about the singer in an instant, with detailed, harrowing accounts from women who said Kelly spent decades pursuing underage girls for sex and maintaining abusive relationships. Kelly has denied the allegations.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


As the creator of popular documentaries for public television like Baseball and The Civil War, Ken Burns often seems like the face of documentary filmmaking at PBS.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Updated July 23, 2021 at 1:09 PM ET

As expected, viewers who woke up early in America to watch NBC's first live morning telecast of an Olympics opening ceremony Friday were greeted with a subdued presentation, kicked off by an explosion of fireworks erupting around a nearly empty Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.

They may be two of the most influential notes in funk-rock history: the soaring, plaintive start to guitarist Eddie Hazel's legendary solo in Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain."

Right about now is when many people would start to hate Ted Lasso.

The show's first season was a come-from-nowhere hit on Apple TV+ last year — an amusing ode to the power of niceness which got a serious viewership boost thank to pandemic lockdowns.

One thing is obvious after watching Naomi Osaka, Netflix's three-episode docuseries tracking the life of the increasingly press-shy tennis champion.

Naomi Osaka worries. A lot.

This year's Emmy nominations cover a time when the coronavirus pandemic turned the TV industry upside down. So it makes sense that the shows and performances announced Tuesday might include some choices that are a bit ... unconventional.

From the funky, opening groove of the film's first song, Stevie Wonder's slinky jam on the Isley's Brothers' "It's Your Thing," it is obvious the new documentary Summer of Soul (...or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) will be packed with little-seen, landmark live performances.

But watch a little longer, as Wonder sits behind a drumkit to whip off a crackling drum solo. As he works the kit, clips of news reports and pundits surface talking about the crucial political and social issues facing Black people in 1969. And you realize you're seeing something more.

As a critic who loves glitzy awards shows and celebrations of great work, I find the Emmy season feels a bit like Christmas and the Super Bowl rolled into one, glorious package. But it can be ruined if the folks handing out the big awards make the wrong picks.


Conan O'Brien keeps saying this goodbye is a good thing.

David Simon created two of TV's most groundbreaking series about the failure of the war on drugs, set in the neighborhoods of Baltimore: HBO's The Corner and The Wire.

Still, even as he allows that those shows — with their visceral look at the intersection of race, policing, violence and tragedy — may have helped people question five decades of failed drug policy, Simon says he remains a "cockeyed pessimist" on the question of whether the war will ever end.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.