Rafu Wire and Staff Reports
Los Angeles Times breaking news reporter Gregory Yee has died at the age of 33, the newspaper reported on Jan. 5.
Yee died on Jan. 4 at the Hollywood bungalow where he lived. “His family said the cause appeared to be complications from a respiratory issue,” according to The Times.
Born and raised in the Los Angeles area, Yee attended UC Irvine, where he was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, New University. After his 2012 graduation with a double degree in Spanish and literary journalism, Yee worked at a New Mexico newspaper, covered crime for The Long Beach Press-Telegram and criminal justice for The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.
“Yee covered an assortment of issues — gun violence, extreme weather, clowns — with enthusiasm and composure,” according to The Post and Courier. He brought attention to deplorable living conditions in a public housing building on the upper Charleston peninsula for senior citizens and people with disabilities; documented how racial justice protests in the summer of 2020 devolved into rioting in South Carolina’s oldest city; and led the newspaper’s coverage of an April 2021 mass shooting in Rock Hill by a former NFL player.
Former co-worker Deanna Pan, now a reporter at The Boston Globe, recalled, “A joke from Greg, or a burst of his laughter, could unbind whatever tedium and drudgery mired us. He reminded us why we do the work that we do because he showed us every day the depth of love humans are capable of.”
Yee started working for The Times from home in the summer of 2021, during the pandemic, as a night reporter on the Metro staff, and most recently was one of 18 reporters on the Fast Break desk, the newspaper’s breaking news unit. He covered such topics as wildfires, gun violence in Oakland, and the debate over robotic police dogs.
The Times remembered Yee as “a hard-charging breaking news correspondent” and “a valued member of the Fast Break desk.”
“We did a nationwide search and he was far and away the best candidate we could get,” recalled B.J. Terhune, an assistant managing editor who oversaw Yee’s work. “He was truly passionate about breaking news. That really stood out when we were interviewing him.”
Terhune added, “When he had the opportunity, he tried to turn it into a tale that readers wanted to stay with.”
Erika Hayasaki, an associate professor of literary journalism at UC Irvine, called Yee “a standout” in the UCI Literary Journalism Program and at The Times. “Beloved and admired by his peers and professors,” she tweeted. “A heartbreaking loss, far too young.”
The Los Angeles Chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association also paid tribute to Yee, calling him “a friend to many at The Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press-Telegram, The Post and Courier, The UC Irvine Literary Journalism Program and more. The chapter is working with Greg’s friends and The Times to raise funds in his honor for early career journalists.”
Yee is survived by his parents, Andrew and Mirta; two sisters, Halina Yee of Hershey, Pa. and Emma Yee of San Francisco; and his pit bull mix, Jake.