Thursday, September 9, 2021

Susan Zirinsky To Oversee Docs For ViacomCBS

Susan Zirinsky
Former CBS News chief Susan Zirinsky is taking on a new role at the division’s parent company ViacomCBS, where she will oversee documentary programming, reports The L-A Times.

The company announced Wednesday that Zirinsky, 69, will head See It Now Studios, which will produce long-form news shows and documentary films that will be shown across ViacomCBS channels and its streaming service Paramount +.

The See It Now nameplate is a tribute to the 1951 CBS News series hosted by TV journalism legend Edward R. Murrow. Zirinsky joined CBS News in 1972 and has a deep connection to the division’s storied history.

Zirinsky will report directly to George Cheeks, president and chief executive of CBS. She will collaborate with Neeraj Khemlani and Wendy McMahon, presidents and co-heads of CBS News and Stations on projects for CBS News.

After many years as an executive producer for CBS News, Zirinsky was named president of the division in January 2019, succeeding David Rhodes. She became the first woman to lead a broadcast TV news division.

Zirinsky has always been most comfortable in a dark control room or editing suite where programs are created. She was said to be less happy with the administrative aspects of the news president job, which included layoffs of 75 staff members as the pandemic put economic pressure on the division.

Zirinsky stepped down in May, replaced by Khemlani and McMahon as part of a restructuring at CBS.

The company made the executive changes amid a housecleaning at its TV stations division following a Los Angeles Times investigation that led to the ouster of its former president Peter Dunn and his second in command, David Friend. The investigation alleged that the pair cultivated an environment that included bullying female managers and blocking efforts to hire and retain Black journalists.

Zirinsky’s move to a new role after leaving the president’s job is unusual in network TV, as most executives would depart after losing a post of such stature. But Zirinsky’s experience in turning around long-form programs remains valuable to the company as streaming has increased the demand for original content across ViacomCBS.

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