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CBS News, in need of fixing, turns to Susan Zirinsky

[NEW YORK] Susan Zirinsky is a legend in the world of television news.

Now, after more than four decades at CBS — including stops in evening and morning news, covering the White House and wars, overseeing documentaries and serving as a 48 Hours executive producer — Ms Zirinsky is ready for her most prominent role yet.

On Sunday, CBS made the surprise announcement that Ms Zirinsky, 66, would soon become the first woman to lead CBS News. She will replace David Rhodes as the division's president in the coming weeks.

And what awaits her?

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A group that has been rocked by a string of executive changes and unsavory revelations about the broader corporate culture at CBS. Just over a year ago, Charlie Rose was fired from his roles at CBS This Morning and 60 Minutes after being accused of sexual misconduct.

In September, chief executive Leslie Moonves was pushed out after he was accused of numerous instances of sexual misconduct.

Zirinsky said it was vital for the division to be mindful of its rich history and move beyond the current turmoil.

"I've been at CBS since I was 20 years old," she said. "I really care about bringing this organisation together both functionally and spiritually."

Bob Schieffer, former CBS News anchor, said he had known Ms Zirinsky since she was working weekends as a desk assistant in Washington in 1972 and believed "she'll be perfect for this job".

"She's the hardest-working person that I have ever known," he said.

Between the division's recent troubles and the news media being assailed as fake news, Ms Zirinsky said she thought it was time to say yes to the big gig.

"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.

The first items for Ms Zirinsky to address will be finding a permanent executive producer for 60 Minutes to replace Jeff Fager, who was fired in September after he threatened a colleague who asked about allegations of harassment against him, and a new executive producer for CBS This Morning. Both shows are critical to the network.