Eric Deggans, media critic for the Tampa Bay Times, spoke to students Wednesday about how minorities are portrayed in the media and his latest book “Race Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation.”
Students learned more about what inspired Deggans to write his book, how he looked at different media outlets to expose the race baiting that existed and used them as examples for his book.
Joyce Pezqueda, 20, sophomore communications studies major, said because the book was assigned reading it forced her to read it and she eventually enjoyed it.
“It was different. It was not something I would pick up, but it was interesting to see how the media and the news report on minorities and the negativity in how the audience responds,” Pezqueda said.
Pezqueda said the book exposed her to get a different perspective of the news and how to put the pieces together to see the underlying message.
Deggans said he was inspired to write his book after Bill O’Reilly called him a race baiter on his TV show.
Race baiting refers to making verbal attacks against members of a racial group, according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.
Working for the Tampa Bay times, he wrote stories regarding race and important issues. People would take his stories and interpret them to make Deggans seem as if he were a race baiter.
Deggans said the concept of race baiting was the unified theme that helped place all of his ideas about the media’s effects into a book.
“I try to pull back the curtain a little bit and show you why things happen the way they do and the story that I use to pull you through it all is through constantly talk about race baiting and the prejudice and stereotype end of it, but I think at its heart is a media literacy book,” Deggans said.
He has worked for the Tampa Bay Times as a TV and media critic since 1995. He is also the Chair of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).
Ruben Ochoa, who organized the event, said it was a good experience for students.
“Students learned that there is an issue with race relations in the media,” said Ochoa, who is also president of the matador public relations group.
The event was sponsored by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) chapter at CSUN, the department of Journalism, the USU and Associated Students.