Crackle snap clash pop. It’s the glorious sound of another glass ceiling shattered.
Susan Zirinsky, 66, is the first woman ever to head up CBS News.
She has been working at the television network for 46 years.
According to The New York Times, her ascension was widely celebrated throughout the network. She was greeted with a roaring ovation from the CBS News staff when she addressed them for the first time on Monday.
Can we pause this article for a second?
A woman worked for 40 years to reach the top of a male-dominated industry and when she finally broke through, her coworkers cheered.
This is not an everyday business story.
Zirinsky had been asked to lead the news team before but declined because she saw herself as a producer, not an executive.
“The context of the times really, really demands a focus and a commitment on the part of journalists to hold firm and not to be distracted by somebody yelling at you or calling you names,” she said. “When you go into battle or go into a boxing ring and they trash-talk you to take you off your footing, you can’t do that. That’s part of why I thought it was so important to do this now.”
Joanne Lipman, former editor in chief of USA TODAY and chief content officer of Gannett, reminds us what it means to have Zirinsky at the helm.
The industry’s overwhelmingly male leadership has repercussions well beyond the newsroom. It infects what we believe is important, which issues we dismiss as trivial, and whom we consider powerful and authoritative.
She’s A Legend In Her Own Time
Susan Zirinsky was the real-life inspiration for the “Jane Craig” character played by Holly Hunter in the 1987 film, Broadcast News. That she had to wait 32 more years to ascend to the C-Suite is itself a remarkable story.
There’s a moment in the film that seems fitting for this occasion.
The pain of Hunter’s honest admission is the pain that smart women who work for dumb, stubborn, and/or sexist men feel every day.