Susan Zirinsky Is Being Honored with RTDNA’s Paul White Award

By A.J. Katz 

She might not be president of a news division anymore, but CBS’ Susan Zirinsky is still one of the most well-known and celebrated figures working in media today.

The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) is honoring her longtime work with the 2021 Paul White Award for her achievements in and contributions to the field of electronic journalism.

“Susan Zirinsky is a highly respected driver of impactful journalism,” RTDNA executive Dan Shelley said in a statement. “Her legacy is already cemented and her accomplishments speak for themselves. She doesn’t just produce the news, she’s repositioning the entire American news industry.”


Named for the first news director of CBS, the Paul White Award recognizes an individual’s lifetime contributions to electronic journalism. Since 1956, honorees have included news media icons such as Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Barbara Walters and Ted Koppel.

As many who have worked in or follow the news business know, Zirinsky is a CBS “lifer.” She first joined the company in the 1970s, two weeks after Watergate. In Feb. 2019, after a nearly 50-year tenure, she was appointed the first female president of CBS News, a role she held until April 2021.

Prior to running the news division, Zirinsky was the senior ep of 48 Hours, and produced award-winning documentaries and programs on major U.S. and world events including the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests, the Gulf War, 9/11, the Nov. 2015 Paris terrorist attacks and the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Zirinsky has returned to those production roots since stepping down from the role of news division president in April—hands-on producing, and creating content for not only CBS News but ViacomCBS’ streaming service, Paramount+.

Zirinsky holds numerous honors including the First Amendment Service Award by RTDNA, multiple News & Document Emmy Awards including for her work on three 48 Hours specials; the Christopher Award for her work on 9/11 and In God’s Name, the National Press Club Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Television & Film Awards, among others.