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TV critic for NPR to examine race, media at Cronkite lecture

Eric Deggans
September 08, 2014

Eric Deggans, one of the nation’s top television critics, will give a free public lecture at Arizona State University this fall on race in the modern media through the Provost’s Office of Academic Excellence and Inclusion.

Deggans’ lecture, “Decoding the Race-baiting of Modern Media,” is set to take place at 7 p.m., Sept. 15, in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s First Amendment Forum on the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus. Deggans is NPR’s first full-time TV critic and the author of “Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation.” His book looks at how prejudice, racism and sexism fuel some elements of modern media.

“My book is an attempt to decode the ways media outlets profit by segmenting Americans,” Deggans said. “I call it the ‘tyranny of the broad niche’ – what happens as the biggest pieces of an increasingly fragmented audience are courted at the expense of many others.”

His appearance is made possible by the ASU Office of Academic Excellence and Inclusion as part of a new initiative that awards grants to academic colleges to fund events related to diversity and inclusion. The purpose is to provide the university community, including students, faculty, staff and local communities, with opportunities to explore and discuss current and cutting-edge scholarly topics and issues from interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary perspectives.

“Eric Deggans is an important voice that invites us to step back for a moment and think carefully about the ideas, both spoken and unspoken, that permeate the media about who we are as Americans, and how those ideas impact our quest to create a just and equitable society, both now and in the future,” said Eduardo Pagán, ASU’s vice provost for Academic Excellence and Inclusion.

With more than 20 years of journalism experience, Deggans’ writing has appeared in The New York Times, Salon magazine,, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone online and other leading media outlets.

Deggans came to NPR from the Tampa Bay Times, where he served as a TV and media critic and in other roles for nearly 20 years. In August 2013, he was guest host of CNN’s media analysis show “Reliable Sources,” filling in for Howard Kurtz.

His work has been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Society for Features Journalism and other organizations. In 2009, Ebony magazine named him to the publication’s “Power 150” list of influential black Americans.

Deggans serves as the NABJ’s chair of the Media Monitoring Committee and on the board responsible for selecting the George Foster Peabody Awards for excellence in electronic media.

A graduate of Indiana University Bloomington, he has lectured or taught as an adjunct professor at a number of colleges and universities, including California State University, Indiana University, University of Tampa and Eckerd College. He also is a contributor to “The New Ethics of Journalism,” a textbook created by Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

Deggans’ talk is part of the Cronkite School’s “Must See Mondays,” a public lecture series featuring leading journalists and communicators. The fall 2014 schedule includes CNN Senior Media Correspondent Brian Stelter, Bloomberg News White House correspondent Margaret Talev and National Geographic documentary photographer Chris Rainier.