Since graduating from Lehigh in 1972, Jeffrey Diamond has experienced nearly 50 years of success as an award-winning journalist.
His career history includes working for ABC and NBC news, running Martha Stewart Living Television, collaborating with public figures such as Barbara Walters and producing investigative stories for 20/20.
Diamond returned to his alma mater Oct. 10 to give a talk as part of the Zoellner Arts Center Notations series. He has recently transitioned from journalism to fiction, and he returned to discuss his career and the release of the second novel in his series, “Live to Tape.”
English professor Stephanie Powell Watts and Zoellner artistic director Deborah Sacarakis created the Notations Series to showcase writing in its various forms.
“We wanted to show that there are many avenues to take if you want to be a writer,” Watts said.
Watts and Sacarakis select and invite writers who are passionate about their work and use writing as a primary means of supporting themselves. This ranges from freelance writers to comedians to hip-hop artists.
When considering speakers for the eighth annual Notations Series, it seemed fitting to select an alum as accomplished as Diamond.
“We thought this is perfect to have someone who has such an affiliation with Lehigh and who’s been so enormously successful,” Watts said.
In his days in television news, Diamond said it was the storytelling aspect that he enjoyed the most. His book series focuses on fictional crime thrillers with inspiration grounded in the experiences of his career in media production. While working on investigative stories, Diamond had the opportunity to interact with and study the behaviors of extreme criminals.
“All of that is the raw material for my novels,” Diamond said. “All of this really plays into what I’m doing right now.”
One of the criminals Diamond interviewed was Henry Lee Lucas, a serial killer on death row for multiple murders in the 1970s. He became the inspiration behind the villain in “Live to Tape,” which was released this summer.
Diamond said his background in television, along with his years of studying at Lehigh, were the foundation for the skills he would continually practice in his career.
“I was a history major, so I did a lot of writing, a lot of reading and a lot of thinking,” Diamond said. “I’ve taken everything I’ve learned here literally right through my whole life.”
He recounts that Joseph Dowling, one of his history professors at Lehigh, was the first person to inspire him and change his life. The lessons he learned years ago proved to be timeless.
Diamond said the processes he followed to be successful at Lehigh remained consistent and valuable throughout his life as he was able to translate them into different work environments. He compared cramming for exams and working to finish assignments to the never-ending deadlines of the journalism world.
“One of the things I learned here was how to finish on time and get my reports in on time,” Diamond said. “It’s the same thing when I was a producer.”
At the event, Diamond read a preview of his second novel and answered questions while community members and Lehigh students gained insight on the progression of his success and his journey to become an author.
“I think it’s very exciting to hear someone who is a Lehigh alum, who was a liberal arts student and who has been so successful in this industry,” Kiera Kehoe, ’19, said. “I definitely want to pursue something in the media industry with production or writing for television, so hearing everything that he’s been able to do and using what he’s learned from Lehigh was definitely something good to hear.”
With regards to advice for current students, Diamond reiterated that the four years students spend at Lehigh are invaluable and will be a preparation for what lies ahead.
“If you spend part of your day thinking about what you’re studying and really working on what you’re studying,” Diamond said, “when you walk out of here, you’re going to have a foundation that really provides you with everything you need to launch your life.”