An Evening with Eric Deggans – June 16, 2014

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The Friends of Mirror Lake Library invite you to the newest event in our author series,  “An Evening with Eric Deggans,” on Monday, June 16, 2014.  Join us at 5:00 pm for a casual reception, with the talk from 6:00 to 7:00 pm.  It all takes place at the beautiful Mirror Lake Library, 280 5th Street North, St. Petersburg.

Eric Deggans is NPR’s first full-time TV critic, crafting stories and commentaries for broadcasts such as Morning Edition and All Things Considered, along with an array of written contributions to NPR.org and blogs such as Code Switch, Monkey See and The Two Way. He came to NPR in September 2013 from the Tampa Bay Times newspaper in Florida, where he served as TV/Media Critic and in other roles for nearly 20 years. A journalist for more than two decades, he is also the author of Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation, a look at how prejudice, racism and sexism fuels some elements of modern media, published in October 2012 by Palgrave Macmillan.

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In Race-Baiter, Deggans reveals how thinly veiled racism in the media is driving Americans apart.

When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, millions believed that America had, at long last, overcome its legacy of racism. Butbehind the celebrations, xenophobia and fear was alive and well, being advanced by the very men and women we’re taught to trust and respect.

Gone is the era of three-channel television, when every outlet fought to serve a wide spectrum of American viewers. Today, many pundits, bloggers and cable news anchors aim instead for a passionate niche of fans, exacerbating old prejudices and deep-rooted fears to lure viewers, readers or listeners and, in turn, advertising dollars. Media critic Eric Deggans experienced this phenomenon firsthand when he was called a “race-baiter” by Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly.

The term, once applied to those who unfairly leveraged racism against minorities, has been recast to describe anyone who criticizes prejudice in modern media. In this timely analysis, Deggans looks at how outlets like talk radio, reality TV, and cable news perpetuate an endless cycle of mistrust and hate that degrades the social institutions we depend on, all with an eye to the bottom line.

With special attention to recent newsmakers such as Trayvon Martin and Sandra Fluke, Deggans sounds the alarm for a more civil discourse, showing that the more we talk past each other, the further we drift from solutions to our very real problems.

 

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