Susan Zirinsky, a 46-year veteran at CBS News, will become the first woman to lead the network’s news division.
Zirinsky, currently the senior executive producer of “48 Hours,” will become president and senior executive of CBS News in March and report to CBS Corp. CEO and President Joe Ianniello, he announced.
Current CBS News president David Rhodes is departing after eight years, Ianniello said. Rhodes, who is leaving March 1, will stay on as a senior adviser, he tweeted Sunday night.
Zirinsky, who served as the inspiration for the character played by Holly Hunter in the 1987 film “Broadcast News,” began at CBS News in Washington in 1972, two weeks after the Watergate break-in. Over the years, she has covered the Nixon administration’s so-called Saturday Night Massacre, the Gulf War, the Tiananmen Square student uprising, the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015 and the February 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
Among her roles, Zirinsky was an associate producer for “The CBS Morning News” and producer on “The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.” In 1987, she became the senior producer for the “CBS Evening News with Dan Rather” in Washington. Three years later, she moved to New York to become the senior producer of the program, later to become a senior broadcast producer.
“No broadcast news producer is more highly respected and admired than Susan Zirinsky,” Ianniello said in a statement. “She is an exceptional leader, a creative force, and an outstanding and proven journalist. Her energy, innovative instincts and competitive spirit are just what is needed to bring the best of CBS News to viewers on every platform.”
Movie producer James L. Brooks interviewed Zirinsky about her job in 1984 as she was covering the Democratic National Convention. While still working at CBS News, she became the technical advisor and associate producer to Brooks for “Broadcast News.”
“This may be a new role, but the mission is the same: deliver quality, in-depth journalism and engaging storytelling,” Zirinsky said in a statement. “CBS News has an incredible legacy to build on. The public’s interest today for news and information is intense, and CBS News is uniquely positioned to expand its reach.”
Zirinsky’s promotion comes as CBS seeks to recover from a workplace sexual misconduct scandal, which led to the November 2017 firing of “CBS This Morning” co-host and “60 Minutes” contributor Charlie Rose, the September 2018 resignation of CBS CEO Leslie Moonves and the firing of “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager.
The announcement of Zirinsky’s promotion was welcomed by many at CBS News. “I feel that we were sort of like a ship, not sinking but taking on water, and I feel that she is somebody who can right the ship,” co-host Gayle King said Monday on “CBS This Morning.”— USA TODAY