This past Wednesday, Lehigh students, faculty, and alumni had the opportunity to meet and listen to alumni Jeffrey L. Diamond’s book discussion. Since graduating from Lehigh in 1972, Diamond has gone on to lead an outstanding media career as a producer, journalist, and author.
From Lehigh to the Media Industry
I had the opportunity to meet with Diamond before he gave his talk, and he continuously emphasized how important his Lehigh education was in shaping the rest of his life. Upon arriving at Lehigh, Diamond thought he would take the pre-medicine track and attend medical school. However, after taking organic chemistry, he decided to switch tracks and take a pre-law route. He became a history major with the intent of attending law school after graduation. A film studies course in his senior year caused Diamond to rethink this decision; he instead decided to take a year after graduation to explore the possibility of working in the film and media industry. His career took off rather quickly, and he would go on to be extremely successful in his pursuit of being a writer and producer for television. Diamond repeated numerous times that the amount of reading and writing he had to do in his history courses played a pivotal role in preparing him for the strict deadlines, long hours, and writing expectations that his media career would entail.
A Television Career
Jeffrey Diamond spent forty years working in the television industry, including extensive time on ABC News’ 20/20, Dateline NBC, Martha Stewart Living Television, and Judith Regan Television. He worked alongside Barbara Walters for 25 years on 20/20, and stated that she was the smartest person with whom he had ever worked.
Diamond went on to speak about his years of work in television and the stresses that came with it. “I ran a show for two years and the stress level is beyond what you can imagine.” He would stay up for days at a time in order to make writing deadlines or work on his arguments to justify his ideas of running certain stories. “If you want to work in this world, you have to be prepared to live that way. I loved it. You really have to love it,” he said.
A Knack for Storytelling
Diamond frequently referred to himself as a storyteller, stating that his abilities came from the things he learned at Lehigh. He referred specifically to the critical thinking and writing skills he developed as an undergraduate. Upon retiring from the media world, Diamond decided to begin writing his own novels. He stated that writing novels came naturally after the amount of writing he had done in the documentary screenwriting and production processes.
The focal point of Diamond’s talk was a reading from one of his novels, Live to Tape, a fictional story about a television producer. After reading the first chapter, he spoke extensively about the characters in his book, including his main character, Ethan Benson, and how they were inspired by people he has worked with over the years–though he would not say who they were. He tried to channel what it was like all of those years in terms of the experiences and stresses working for executive producers and being an executive producer, and then translate those feelings into his novels.
It was an honor to meet Jeffrey Diamond and hear so many positive words from such an accomplished Lehigh alum. I hope that students and faculty appreciated his readings and words of encouragement, and will use them to fuel their successes after graduation.