Eric Deggans: Race Baiter
Book Signing and Discussion
The Studio@620 welcomes Tampa Bay Times Media Critic Eric Deggans as he presents his latest publication "Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation". Join the author as he presents a short reading from the book followed by a group discussion of topics raised, plus musical performance by funk/jazz band Jes Grew. Admission is free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase at the event.
Gone is the era of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, when news programs fought to gain the trust and respect of a wide spectrum of American viewers. Today, the fastest-growing news programs and media platforms are fighting hard for increasingly narrow segments of the public and playing on old prejudices and deep-rooted fears, coloring the conversation in the blogosphere and the cable news chatter to distract from the true issues at stake. Using the same tactics once used to mobilize political parties and committed voters, they send their fans coded messages and demonize opposing groups, in the process securing valuable audience share and website traffic. Race-baiter is a term born out of this tumultuous climate, coined by the conservative media to describe a person who uses racial tensions to arouse the passion and ire of a particular demographic. Even as the election of the first black president forces us all to reevaluate how we think about race, gender, culture, and class lines, some areas of modern media are working hard to push the same old buttons of conflict and division for new purposes. In Race-Baiter, veteran journalist and media critic Eric Deggans dissects the powerful ways modern media feeds fears, prejudices, and hate, while also tracing the history of the word and its consequences, intended or otherwise.
About the author
Eric Deggans serves as TV/Media Critic for the Tampa Bay Times, Florida's largest newspaper. Some people call him the most critical guy in the place, because he's served as TV critic, Pop Music Critic and Media Critic at various times. He also provides regular commentaries on TV for National Public Radio and writes about media issues for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana University.
Raised in Gary, Indiana, he earned a degree in journalism from Indiana University, working at newspapers in Pittsburgh, Pa. and Asbury Park, N.J. before landing in Florida. A drummer for more than 30 years, he performed in a band signed to Motown Records in the late 1980s and still plays the occasional show with local artists. He has won awards for his journalism from the Florida Society of News Editors, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Society for Features Journalism and American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors; his work also has appeared in the Washington Post, Seattle Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Ebony magazine and Rolling Stone Online.