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Quill magazine says I have one of journalism's coolest jobs



quill_cover.gifThe journalism trade magazine Quill called me up recently for one of its ongoing features, where it asks 10 questions to people it thinks have cool journalism jobs.

So, since my schedule today has made posting on the blog more difficult than I expected, here's a taste of that interview, with a link to the whole thing on Quill's website. I can't dispute their contention that i have a wonderful gig, though sometimes it's hard to remember when you're cranking on so many different things at once.

Here's the story, starting with a wonderful intro from Scott Leadingham:

eric-thefeed.jpg"In another world, you may have heard of Eric Deggans the rock star. But life presents choices, and we chose certain paths that lead to different ends. Deggans’ path to becoming a TV and media critic for the St. Petersburg Times (which officially becomes the Tampa Bay Times in 2012) was full of choices. The Gary, Ind., native grew up in the same town where the Jackson family first made its mark on American pop music. At Indiana University, he studied journalism and political science while making time for his funk music group, The Voyage Band. Though successful in their own right – touring the Midwest and recording an album – the band wasn’t the path Deggans ultimately chose. He took his journalism education and ear for music to Pittsburgh and New Jersey, reporting and eventually becoming a music critic. That opened a pathway to sunny west-central Florida and the Times. And though you likely won’t hear The Voyage Band’s music on the radio, you could very well hear Deggans’ voice pumping out of your car stereo during one of his occasional NPR commentaries.

hermancain3.jpgYou called out certain commentators and outlets for using the term “lynching” referring to media treatment of Herman Cain and sexual harassment allegations against him. What do you think those commentators were trying to accomplish with such language?

Different people use that for different reasons. Part of it was a classic misdirection scenario, trying to distract from that fact that Herman Cain was not answering these questions well. I get a sense that a lot of people don’t understand the concepts behind how people like me talk about race. I constantly find myself telling conservatives that just because a black man is accused of sexual harassment, that doesn’t make it racist. I feel like the use of the term (lynching) should be reserved for just that – just like I wouldn’t use the term “rape” for anything other than rape.

I imagine if “Glee” were renamed “Lima 90210” to better reflect its location and content, you would have an opinion about it. If you’rechelsea_clinton.jpg able to speak to this, I’m curious how you think the St. Petersburg Times name change (to Tampa Bay Times) will go.

I don’t think it’s ill advised. I think it makes sense. It’s part of trying to transition to this new economic reality. Business-wise, we cover the Tampa Bay area aggressively. So I think we’re changing our name to reflect what we’re already doing. It’s just another sign that competition between newspapers is heating up.

You once called NBC the “Nepotism Broadcasting Corporation,” and you seemed to reiterate it after the recent announcement that the network had hired Chelsea Clinton as a special correspondent. Why is that a bad thing? I don’t think too many major media outlets are known solely for hiring people on pure skill.

I would say it’s the job of the critic to push. My gig is to push for the best possible circumstance. Broadcast TV news at the network level is struggling for audience and credibility. The last thing it needs is to be bucked up by people whose qualification is not because they’re famous but because of who they’re related to. I think it does a disservice to the person who gets hired.

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[Last modified: Friday, December 2, 2011 4:50pm]


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