Zirinsky leaving as CBS News chief, amid industry change

NEW YORK (AP) — CBS News President Susan Zirinsky is stepping down after two years on the job, making it the second of the three broadcast news divisions to lose its leader in the past couple of months.

Zirinsky told CBS News staff at the network’s morning news meeting on Wednesday, according to someone there who spoke on condition of anonymity because it was an internal gathering.

“I am absolutely not leaving CBS,” said Zirinsky, a longtime news producer at the network, said at the meeting. It was unclear how long the transition will take place.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Zirinsky is expected to sign a deal to produce content for CBS News.

ABC News is expected to soon replace the departed James Goldston as that network’s news chief with one of Zirinsky’s top deputies.

During her two years as leader, Zirinsky appointed Norah O’Donnell as anchor of “CBS Evening News,” and moved its studio to Washington. She installed a new team at “CBS This Morning” with executive producer Shawna Thomas and anchors Gayle King, Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil.

She appointed longtime producer Bill Owens as the top behind-the-scenes executive at “60 Minutes,” the network’s flagship broadcast.

Zirinksy, 69, has also sought to diversify leadership at the network with the promotions of executive vice presidents Kim Godwin and Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews, the latter also Washington bureau chief, and others. According to several reports, Godwin is close to being named the ABC News president.

Zirinsky was brought in as a stabilizing force after a rough couple of years at the network. Former morning show host Charlie Rose was fired in November 2017 following reports of improper behavior involving female staffers. Owens’ predecessor was fired after sending a message seen as threatening to a CBS reporter.

She’s been working at CBS News since the early 1970s and was executive producer at “48 Hours” before being elevated to the network news presidency. Zirinsky was the model for the hard-charging news producer portrayed by Holly Hunter in the 1987 movie, “Broadcast News.”

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