Joan Zyda; Journalist, Ex-Publisher of Student Paper


Joan Zyda, who was fired as publisher of the Cal State Los Angeles student newspaper after it investigated the death of a student crushed on campus in the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake, has died. She was 40.

Ms. Zyda was found unconscious in her Van Nuys home Wednesday and died Friday at Valley Presbyterian Hospital of a brain hemorrhage.

She filed a $2-million civil suit against the state over her 1988 ouster, claiming that her 1st Amendment rights to freedom of expression had been violated by administrators demanding more upbeat stories in the University Times, the student paper she directed.


She said at the time the suit was filed in 1989 that she wanted “to put a strong light on the 1st Amendment house of horrors” at the Los Angeles campus. The suit had been scheduled for a Superior Court trial Aug. 31.

A former student intern at The Times, Ms. Zyda had been a reporter at the Chicago Tribune, an editor at the Pasadena Star-News and at Investor’s Daily, and assistant city editor at the now-defunct Los Angeles Herald Examiner.

Since 1981, she had worked as senior journalism instructor at UCLA Extension. At the time of her death, she was a public information specialist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

Ms. Zyda is survived by her parents, Joseph and Teresa Zyda of Las Vegas, and two brothers, Christopher and Michael.

Rosary will be at 8 p.m. today at Utter McKinley Mission Hills Mortuary, and a funeral Mass is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at San Fernando Rey Mission Church, 15151 San Fernando Mission Blvd., Mission Hills.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Joan Zyda Memorial Fund in Journalism, care of Barrie Bortnick, head of the journalism program, UCLA Extension, Room 731, 10995 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles, 90024.