Myra E. Barrer, 50, president of the Today News Service and publisher of women's newsletters and reference works, died of cancer Saturday at her Silver Spring home.

She founded the Today News Service, a general news service with offices in the National Press Building, in 1970. That year she also started and published a biweekly newsletter, "Women Today."

She was editor and publisher of "Women's Organizations and Leaders Directory," which was named reference book of the year by the American Library Association in 1974. She was working on the book's third edition at the time of her death.

She helped found the Women's Forum in Washington in 1977, a roundtable discussion group dealing with women's experience in government.

She had chaired a women's bank advisory committee for the State National Bank in Bethesda.

Mrs. Barrer had been a Maryland delegate on the Continuing Committee for the International Women's Year, and had chaired the national legislative committee of Women in Communication.

American University recently named a journalism award in her honor.

Mrs. Barrer was a native a New York City and lived in New Jersey and North Carolina before moving here in 1964.

She earned a bachelor's degree at Hunter College, where she was a member fo Phi Beta Kappa, and a master's degree in education at Columbia University.

She is survived by her husband, Lester, and two daughters, Susan and Amy, all of the home.