Eric Deggans is the first-ever full time Media Critic employed by the St. Petersburg Times. Before taking the media criticism job in August 2005, Eric worked as an editorial writer and columnist for the St. Petersburg Times, specializing in race issues, pop culture, media and national affairs. From 1997 to 2004, he served as television critic for the Times, crafting reviews, news stories and long-range trend pieces on the state of the media industry both locally and nationally.
A Times employee since November 1995, he originally joined the paper as music critic. Now serving as president of the Tampa Bay area chapter of 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.
In 2005, he was selected to lecture at Columbia University’s prestigious Graduate School of Journalism as a winner of the school’s Let’s Do It Better! Awards honoring coverage of race and ethnicity. He also spoke at the opening session of the 2005 National Critics Conference in Los Angeles. A recipient of a 2003 ethics fellowship at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, he served as an instructor in the program the following year – helping teach media ethics to a distinguished class of journalists drawn from across the nation. As a past vice president at NABJ chapters in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, he spearheaded creation of minority affairs reporting positions at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper in 1993 and the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press newspaper in 1994. He has also developed a training program on racial sensitivity for recruits at the Pennsylvania State Troopers Academy.
As a guest lecturer and adjunct professor, he has taught at the University of Tampa, the University of South Florida, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg College, Indiana University and many other schools. 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.
Talking Points: The TV industry, music industry, pop culture, minority affairs and media ethics.
Education: Bachelor of Arts in political science and journalism from Indiana University.
Awards: Winner, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism’s Let’s Do it Better! Award for excellence in race and ethnicity coverage, 2005; First Place, Criticism, Florida Society of Newspaper Editors, 2003; Best Newspaper Columnist, Weekly Planet magazine, September 2000; Award of Excellence, Criticism, Mid-Florida Society of Professional Journalists, May 2003, 2001, 2000 and 1999; Finalist, Criticism, Green Eyeshade Awards, Atlanta SPJ Chapter, April 2003 and 1999.
Background: Born in Washington D.C. but raised in Gary, Ind., Eric came to the Times after serving as music critic for the Asbury Park Press newspaper in New Jersey. He also held municipal reporting jobs at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Press newspapers in Pennsylvania. His work also has appeared in the Washington Post, Village Voice, VIBE magazine, Detroit News, Chicago Sun-Times, Seattle Times, Hispanic magazine, Smart Computing magazine, Rolling Stone Online and the MusicHound series of album guides.
He has appeared as a pundit on many media outlets, including: MSNBC; “The Tavis Smiley Show” (Black Entertainment Television); “All Things Considered,” “The Tony Cox Show” and “News and Notes with Ed Gordon” (National Public Radio); “Livelyhood” and “The Calling” (PBS); and “Crosscurrents” (the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). Eric has also appeared on a host of local and regional TV and radio shows.
Eric and his wife Barbara live in St. Petersburg with their four children, two dogs and a house they lovingly call “the Money Pit.”