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Eric Deggans to leave Tampa Bay Times for job as NPR's first TV critic

Eric Deggans, TV and media critic for the Tampa Bay Times, will become NPR's TV critic.

Carrie Pratt

Eric Deggans, TV and media critic for the Tampa Bay Times, will become NPR's TV critic.



After nearly 18 years critiquing television, media, music and pop culture at the Tampa Bay Times, I will be leaving the newspaper for a new job as National Public Radio’s first TV critic.



The new job is a continuation and amplification of the work I’ve already done as a freelance commentator for NPR, offering critical analysis of everything from media coverage of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman controversies to picking out who really deserves Emmy nominations. After years of serving as an NPR fan and occasional contributor, I’ll get a chance to join one of the strongest journalism organizations in the nation, reaching 27 million listeners each week.

But it’s tough to leave the Times, a place which has been my journalism home for so long. It’s also one of the best news organizations in the country – with the Pulitzers to prove it. I’ve always been grateful for how the newspaper allowed me to follow my critical instincts and my values in developing the TV critic’s job into a new, modern animal. And the newspaper's support in the development of my first book, Race-Baiter, was invaluable.

I start work at NPR in October, which gives me plenty of time to say goodbye to everyone and wind down important projects. I’m looking forward to writing one last Fall TV preview and a few more stories on cool shows such as Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy.

There is no way to sum up how amazing my time has been here at the newspaper in a few words typed on a blog. But I’ll try for better language when I write my last column for the newspaper a few months from now, charting my progress from an enthusiastic kid who loved writing about pop music to a television critic, media critic, editorial writer, social issues columnist and social media addict all in one.

Check out the press releases going out today from the Times and NPR;  as always, feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section below.

From the Times, written by deputy managing editor Jeanne Grinstead:

This is a difficult note to write, but one that comes from the heart.

It is with a mix of pride and sadness that I give you the news our colleague and good friend Eric Deggans is leaving the Times in late September to join National Public Radio as its TV critic and correspondent.

Eric has spent a good part of his career with us, working at the Times for the past 18 years. He came to the Times in 1995 as pop music critic, and moved to the TV beat two years later. He took a break to join the editorial board in 2004 before returning to the critics’ corner, first as media writer in 2005, then again as TV critic in 2006. He also has provided commentaries about television and media to CNN and NPR, and is the author of the excellent book Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation. On Friday Eric will receive the 2013 national NABJ Arts & Entertainment Task Force Legacy Award to honor his career as a journalist and recognize his terrific influence on those who will follow him. 

We shall miss Eric's expertise about all things TV and media, as well as his smart, honest commentary on how the world of diversity looks through his eyes. We appreciate the insight he has shared over these many years.
Mostly I will miss his sensitivity and fearless voice. I have worked with many journalists in the past 35 years, and only a few have matched his courage. If you care about your country, and the place and state of journalism within it, you have to read Eric Deggans.

And now, you will listen to him.

From NPR

August 1, 2013; Washington, D.C. – Media critic Eric Deggans (@Deggans) is joining NPR News as a TV critic and correspondent. Deggans, a longtime TV and media critic at the Tampa Bay Times, begins reporting fulltime for NPR in October. Deggans’ work is widely recognized, and tomorrow, he will be honored at the National Association of Black Journalists annual convention as the recipient of its 2013 Arts & Entertainment Task Force Legacy Award, which recognizes a veteran A&E journalist that has set an example for others in the field.

Deggans has contributed media criticism and commentary to NPR for the past several years, producing radio pieces and appearing regularly to discuss TV and media on all of its news programs. He brought his deft understanding of media to NPR’s coverage of the Trayvon Martin case and the relationship between TV and real-world violence, and has also contributed to NPR’s race, ethnicity and culture blog Code Switch. In this newly created role of TV critic and correspondent, Deggans will continue to bring audiences his distinct perspective on television, media and cultural criticism, and offer context on entertainment trends and their intersection with society and culture in America today.

“For many years, I have been a fan of NPR’s super smart journalism and I often fantasized of what it might be like to join their ranks as a contributor,” says Deggans. “A position like this one is beyond my wildest dreams; I’m honored and excited by the opportunity to help shape NPR’s coverage of television and pop culture.”

Deggans joined the Tampa Bay Times in 1995 as a pop music critic, moving to the TV beat in 1997. He spent 2004 on the Times editorial board before returning to the arts desk, first as media writer in 2005, then again as TV critic in 2006. He is the author of Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation.

“We are thrilled that Eric is joining NPR, and going to be part of a team that will enhance our coverage of one of the most important social forces in our time, the impact of TV,” says Madhulika Sikka, Executive Editor of NPR News.

NPR is an award-winning, multimedia news organization that reaches 27 million listeners each week, and nearly 23 million people monthly on digital platforms. In collaboration with more than 900 independent public radio stations nationwide, NPR strives to provide the public with a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures. To find local stations and broadcast times, visit

[Last modified: Thursday, August 1, 2013 4:25pm]


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