NPR Television Critic Decodes Media’s Coverage of Race


From the turbulence of modern elections to protests over police brutality in communities of color and fears of domestic terrorism from radicalized white nationalists, America is increasingly divided by fierce debates among citizens divided by race, class, culture and belief systems.

Often it seems the nation’s media outlets – which audiences hope will help cut through the chaos – instead contribute to it. Either they fumble to understand the issues at hand or they cynically exploit the controversies to build ratings, revenue and influence, regardless of the cost to society.

In Eric’s presentations, he shows how some conservatives have been increasingly radicalized by an alternative, right wing-oriented media structure which presents how they wish to see the world — or amplifies fears they have about the world. He details how Fox News Channel’s focus on its target audience has led the channel to deny systemic racism and echo longtime prejudices. How media featuring confrontation, especially in cable news, feeds anxieties among viewers and heightens social friction. How the principles of anti-racism can help viewers expose harmful messages in media. How news consumption can be different, according to political ideology. And the four types of racism which most often derail media outlets, especially in news reporting

eric-deggans-decoding-media-race-baiter-npr-television-critic-speaker-wolfman-productionsEric offers a guide for how to talk about thorny subjects such as race and culture across racial, class and culture lines, short-circuiting the fear and anger which so often make discussion on these issues difficult.  

A TV and media critic with more than 20 years of experience, Eric covers TV and media issues for National Public Radio, providing critiques on these issues for millions of listeners each week on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now, and many other network shows.  In addition to his work at NPR, Eric serves as a contributor and media analyst for MSNBC and NBC News.

His book, Race-Baiter: How the Media Wield Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation, explores these issues in depth, earning rave reviews from Entertainment Weekly, Publisher’s Weekly, the Dallas Morning News, Newsday and many other outlets.

Eric says media outlets often earn big profits by turning audience members against each other; deploying stereotypes, prejudice and racism to attract fans and keep them from competitors. These outlets are often isolated by identity – race, political leaning, gender, religion or some combination thereof – creating a situation where the audience is constantly told its experience is the sole truth.

Others’ experience and expertise begin to take a backseat to each person’s own beliefs. And as the audience gets more power over the success of media outlets, there is more pressure among media outlets to cater to their beliefs, regardless of how outlandish they may be.

Eric says talking about such issues helps defuse them, despite the pushback from those who would shut down such dialog by slinging an ugly term: Race Baiter.

Eric is a longtime journalist and thought leader who has lectured at Columbia University, Loyola University, George Washington University, the Honors College at the University of South Florida and many other institutions. In November 2016, he will receive the Distinguished Alumni award from The Media School at Indiana University. He currently also serves as a judge for the George Foster Peabody Awards for Excellence in Electronic Media.

In addition to “Building Bridges, Not Walls,” Eric can speak on topics that include journalism ethics, modern pop culture, the changing state of the modern TV industry, TV’s current Golden Age of content, celebrity journalism, the future of media, and more.

For more information on booking Eric Deggans, contact Scott Wolfman


…he was AWESOME!!! I would have listened for another hour!” – Jessica Russell, Assistant Director, Office of Student Engagement – Florida SouthWestern State College

“ It was a great presentation.” – Rogers Laugand, Director of Minority Student Services – Clarion University of Pennsylvania

“…Eric was terrific. He is an engaging speaker with an excellent presentation…I do believe that Eric made an impact, not only with his presentation but also with his interactions with students. And I believe that seeds were planted for furthering healthy dialog on campus.” –  Kerry Raadt, Director of College Events –  Carleton College

“The luncheon was fantastic! He was impeccable and brought a view point onto this campus that I think many people will walk away with a changed mindset, or at least a more open one than they walked in with. I have heard wonderful things about Eric from multiple people.” – Blaise Guerriero, Student Coordinator of Diversity and Inclusion – The University of Tampa

“Eric Deggans is one of the most insightful and provocative writers about television today.  In his columns for the St Petersburg Times and his NPR commentaries, Deggans has established himself as a voice worth listening to. His many fans — and I’m one of them — will devour this book.”    —Andy Borowitz

“If you care about this country, if you want to take part in a citizen’s movement that helps heal the deep racial, economic, and cultural divides tearing us apart, you must read Eric Deggans’ Race-Baiter. No book of recent vintage so thoroughly dissects the media’s monetized appetite for division. Provocative, honest, and smart, Race-Baiter is a supremely important book. Read it and let the conversation begin.”    –Connie May Fowler, Author of Before Women had Wings

“Eric Deggans proves that he is one of the most insightful and courageous writers covering today’s fast-shifting media landscape. This is an important book.”    
—Michele Norris, NPR’s All Things Considered and founder of The Race Card Project



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