Susan Zirinsky

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Susan Zirinsky
Born (1952-03-03) March 3, 1952 (age 66)
OccupationJournalist, producer
Spouse(s)Joseph Peyronnin (1984-present)
Gédéon Naudet, James Hanlon, Susan Zirinsky and Jules Naudet posing with the Peabody Award for their film 9/11, May 2003

Susan Zirinsky (born March 3, 1952) is an American journalist and television news producer. She has been the executive producer of 48 Hours since 1996. She also produces breaking news specials for CBS News. In 2003 she won a Primetime Emmy Award as producer of the documentary 9/11 (2002), aired on CBS in 2002.[1]

In 2013, Zirinsky was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Television & Film Awards.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Zirinsky was born in New York City and raised in Neponsit, Queens, the daughter of Cynthia (née Finkelstein) and Richard Zirinsky (1915–2002).[3] Her sister, Barbara Zirinsky Faden, died in 1999 at age 50 from cancer.[4] Her mother created Gracie Square Hospital in New York City and she works as a mental health care professional. Her father was a New York City real-estate developer.[5][6] Named after her parents for their philanthropy, the Richard and Cynthia Zirinsky Center for Bipolar Disorder is located at Mount Sinai Beth Israel.[7]

Zirinsky graduated from the School of Communications at American University in Washington, D.C. and made a career in TV journalism.[8] She delivered the communication school commencement address in 2009.[9] Her nickname in the newsroom is "Z".[10]

She married Joseph Peyronnin in 1984. Peyronnin is also a journalist and has won an Emmy Award. The couple had covered the Tiananmen Square Massacre. In 1996 they adopted a baby girl from China, naming her Zoe.[11][12]

Work at CBS[edit]

Zirinsky joined the CBS News Washington Bureau in 1972 when she was 20 years old and a sophomore at American University; she worked as a weekend production clerk. In her senior year, she helped write stories about the Watergate Scandal. She kept working for CBS after graduation in various roles.

She was assigned to cover the White House for CBS, which she did for more than a decade. During this time she worked with Marcy McGinnis and Lesley Stahl, who was her mentor. She has also specialized in covering political campaigns and war assignments. She went with Dan Rather to Kuwait during the Gulf War, where she produced the news, and Rather reported live from Kuwait City.

Zirinsky is the senior executive producer of 48 Hours. She also produces breaking news specials for CBS News. Her frequent collaborators include Bob Schieffer.[13][14][15]

Broadcast News[edit]

The 1987 film Broadcast News was based on Zirinsky’s experience at the CBS News Washington Bureau in the early 1980s. She worked with director and screenwriter James L. Brooks and served as associate producer and technical advisor for the film. She also helped prepare actress Holly Hunter to portray her. Hunter job-shadowed Zirinsky and cut her hair into a bob cut to look similar to the producer. Zirinsky gave Hunter some of her clothes to wear in the film. Hunter was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.[16]

Zirinsky has attended screenings of the film for young journalists and lectured about her career and the making of the film.[16][17]

Select works[edit]

(as Executive Producer)

Awards and honors[edit]

Two of Zirinsky's projects have won Peabody Awards for Excellence, 9/11 (2002), a documentary about the World Trade Center from the point of view of firefighters from a Lower Manhattan company, and 48 Hours: Heroes Under Fire.

  • She was given the 1st Amendment Service Award by the Radio Television and Digital News Foundation in 2003. She won the News & Documentary Emmy Award for her work on three 48 Hours specials, Hostage, Grave Injustice, and Perilous Journey. She won the Christopher Award for her work on 9/11 and In God's Name.[18][19] Her work on the 48 Hours: The Lost Children won an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2010.[20]


  1. ^ Susan Zirinsky CBS News Biography accessed 11/17/2016
  2. ^ New York Festival Award accessed 11/18/2016
  3. ^ Richard Zirinsky New York Times obituary accessed 11/17/2016
  4. ^ Barbara Zirinsky obituary accessed 11/7/2016
  5. ^ Mental Health Association Leadership accessed 11/18/2016
  6. ^ Lawrence Van Gelder (1985-11-17). "Long Islanders; Making Her Mark at 'Ma-Pa' Hospital". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  7. ^ Zirinsky Center, accessed 11/18/2016
  8. ^ News Trailblazer accessed 11/17/2016
  9. ^ Commencement 2009 accessed 11/17/2016
  10. ^ Sakamoto, Rex (2015-06-05). "5 minutes with 48 Hours' Senior Executive Producer Susan Zirinsky". CBS News. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  11. ^ California marriage index accessed 11/17/2016
  12. ^ CBS conflict of interest accessed 11/17/2016
  13. ^ Gillette, Felix (2009-01-28). "Not-So-Suddenly Susan!". New York Observer. Retrieved 2016-11-30.
  14. ^ Weller, Sheila (2015) [2014]. The News Sorority. New York, New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-698-17003-2. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  15. ^ Auletta, Ken (2005-03-07). "Sign-Off: The long and complicated career of Dan Rather". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2016-11-03.
  16. ^ a b Hobbs, Laureen (February 1992). "Stranger Than Fiction at CBS News". Spy. p. 18. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  17. ^ Gay, Verne (2015-10-16). "CBS News, Hollywood and 'Truth': A brief history of a long love affair". Newsday. Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  18. ^ RTDNA winners accessed 11/18/2016
  19. ^ Peabody Award winners accessed 11/16/2016
  20. ^ "48 Hours Wins Edward R. Murrow Award". CBS News. 2010-06-16.

External links[edit]