Class of 1957
Inducted 1998 Inaugural Group
Joan Snyder began breaking journalistic ground when she was still a student at the College. She was the first female editor of Observation Post and later on, she was the first woman to be a field producer at CBS News and one of the first to fill that role at any major television network. In a nearly 30-year career at CBS, she wrote and produced for some of the biggest names in TV news: Walter Cronkite, Mike Wallace, Charles Kuralt and Dan Rather.
Snyder was born on July 20, 1935, near Baltimore. The family moved to the Bronx, where she attended public schools before enrolling at City College.
In addition to editing OP, she was the campus correspondent for The New York Times, but when she graduated, the only job she could find was on a supermarket trade magazine, where she won a “Frosty” award for her coverage of frozen foods. That experience, plus a promise to never get married, got her a job at the Newark bureau of United Press International in 1958. Five years later, she joined CBS News as a news writer.
Eventually, she became a producer for the weekend editions of “The CBS Evening News” and later, “Sunday Morning.” She was one of the first female TV journalists to travel with her own camera crew as she covered the major news stories of that time, from the national conventions and presidential campaigns to the Apollo space program. In 1972, she became one of the few men or women to become a producer/correspondent, getting in front of the camera for an interview she was producing on the singer-composer Don McLean.
In the early 1980s, Snyder was diagnosed with breast cancer and fought it successfully with a lumpectomy, now a common surgical procedure, but then a relatively new and controversial alternative to a radical mastectomy. She went on to produce and report a series for CBS that helped educate viewers about the procedure.
In a round of cost-cutting, Snyder was laid off by CBS in 1987, but Rather, Wallace, Kuralt and Don Hewitt intervened and her position was saved. In 1991, a new round of cutbacks was initiated and this time, Snyder was forced to leave. She became a freelance producer and worked for organizations that included Time-Warner, Fox and WCBS-TV. In the late 1990s, she created a video unit at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
She died on Sept. 9, 2004 at the age of 69