Our History

About Free Media Online

Our Mission, Activities, and Goals

FreeMediaOnline.org works to defend and advance free speech and freedom of the press worldwide through journalistic, educational, and information-sharing activities.

Our goal: to create a media environment supporting greater freedom, understanding, and tolerance.

Our core activities: offering information sharing and program delivery assistance to journalists and media organizations whose right to free expression is denied or restricted;

countering repression, censorship, propaganda, disinformation, and corruption;

providing independent analysis and program delivery services to individuals and organizations engaged in supporting free media worldwide;

working with private and public institutions to make their information resources available for royalty-free use by independent journalists in media-at-risk countries.

Our Board

Mario Corti

Mario Corti

A member of the FreeMediaOnline.org Board of Directors and the International Advisory Board, Mario Corti is a distinguished journalist, writer, and analyst of Russian politics, society, and culture. He has been an active supporter of independent journalism and publishing in Russia and in other countries of the former Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe.

In 1979, Mario Corti joined Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in Munich as a research-analyst/editor of the Samizdat unit of Radio Liberty. He later became deputy chief and chief of the Samizdat unit and served as Deputy Director and Director of the Information Resources Department of the RFE-RL Research Institute. After RFE/RL’s move from Munich to Prague, Mario Corti worked as a broadcaster in the Russian Broadcasting Department, serving as Deputy Director (1996 – 1998) and as Director (1998-2003). While in charge of RFE/RL Russian broadcasts, he expanded Moscow and Saint Petersburg news bureaus and opened a news bureau in Ekaterinburg. He also organized training seminars for journalists who contributed news reports to RFE/RL and instituted the “Radio Svoboda” Journalistic Award. While at RFE/RL, he also launched a number of cooperative projects with independent media outlets and independent journalists in Russia. He also started a multimedia educational project with the Moscow University for the Humanities (RGGU) based on the Radio Liberty series dealing with the XXth Communist Party Congress. He retired from RFE/RL in 2005.

Before joining RFE/RL, Mario Corti worked as a translator and interpreter in the Italian Embassy in Moscow, cofounded a publishing house (La Casa Matriona) in Milan, and actively publicized the work of Soviet human rights activists and Samizdat writers. Between 1969 and 1978, he edited several books on dissent in the USSR. In 1977 he served as chairman of the Italian Organizing Committee of the Second International Sakharov Hearings in Rome and contributed to an exhibit on Soviet dissent for the Venice Biennale. He organized exhibits of Samizdat documents in Turin, Italy (sponsored by La Gazzetta del Popolo in 1978), and in Washington, D.C. (sponsored by AFL-CIO in 1979). In 1979, he helped organize the Third (American) Sakharov Hearings in Washington, D.C., on human rights violations in the USSR and Eastern Europe.

Mario Corti is the author and editor of several books. Dreif, a book written in Russian about philosophy and culture, was published in Russia and Ukraine in 2002. His book, Salieri i Mozart, on the relationship between the two composers, was published in Russian in 2005. His articles on human rights and Soviet dissent have appeared in several languages in many countries. He speaks Italian, Russian, English, German, Spanish, and French and has a working knowledge of several other European languages. He currently lives in Italy.

Dr. Sam Swan


Sam Swan

Dr. Sam Swan is Professor Emeritus at the School of Journalism and Electronic Media, College of Communication and Information of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. A member of the FreeMediaOnline.org Board of Directors, Dr. Swan is an internationally known scholar and media consultant with over 30 years of experience in broadcasting, broadcast management, broadcast education, and research. Dr. Swan began his broadcasting career in 1967 as a radio news reporter and anchor at KFVS-AM in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where he later became news director. He performed many other duties, including sales, production, and on-air music announcing. Swan later served as the anchor/host for a two-hour morning show on KFVS-TV in the late 1960s. From 1968-1970 he served as a principal anchor for the 5:30 and 10:00 p.m. newscasts on KFVS-TV.

After completing an undergraduate degree in communication from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Swan accepted an assignment to work in Sri Lanka for six months in 1970-71. In Sri Lanka, he lived with families to better understand the people and culture of the country while consulting with the Farm Broadcasting Service on developing radio programs to reach young farmers.

Dr. Swan served as a radio-television specialist for the University of Missouri from 1972 -1978, where he produced and hosted numerous radio and television programs broadcast on stations throughout Missouri.

He earned a master’s degree in communication from Central Missouri State University in 1974 and completed a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Missouri in 1978.

After completing his doctorate, Dr. Swan was named Electronic Media Leader at the University of Minnesota. In that role, he led a faculty of five broadcasters in producing and distributing numerous radio and TV programs broadcast throughout Minnesota.

In 1981, Dr. Swan became Head of the Department of Radio-Television at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. At SIU, Swan headed a faculty of 14 and a student population of 600 students. He also provided leadership for public radio and public television stations.

In 1985, Dr. Swan became Head of the Department of Broadcasting at the University of Tennessee. In that role, Swan led a faculty of 7 and a student population of 400. He was responsible for the donation of a 50,000-watt commercial AM station to the university. He designed and programmed the station as an all-news station for the Knoxville market. He also managed a non-commercial FM station for students at the university. On the television side, Swan conceived and continues to produce a weekly news and public affairs program for WBIR-TV, the NBC affiliate in Knoxville.

Dr. Swan became involved with international media training in 1996. He has conducted radio sales and management workshops in Africa for radio managers. Workshops were held in Angola, Tanzania, South Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria. More than 200 managers from all over Africa have participated in these workshops. Swan has also provided management training for engineers as part of the United States Technical Training Institute.

Dr. Swan has also conducted numerous workshops in Eastern Europe and Asia for radio and television managers. Most workshops have focused on sales and management, and one focused on broadcast research. Others have focused on broadcast journalism. Workshops have been conducted in Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Latvia. Swan has also conducted workshops in Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and India. Swan has conducted several other workshops for Eastern European radio and television managers in Washington, D.C., and Knoxville, Tennessee. Groups from Slovakia, Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, and Bulgaria have participated in 1-3 week workshops at the University of Tennessee.

Ted Lipien, Founder and President

Ted Lipien

Ted (Tadeusz) Lipien was born in 1953 in Nowy Targ, a town in southern Poland between the historic city of Kraków to the north and the Tatra Mountains to the south. 1953 was the year of the death of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and the end of the fighting in Korea. Poland was ruled by a communist regime controlled by Moscow; the communists imprisoned the head of the Polish Catholic Church, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, and a young priest, Father Karol Wojtyła, who was working with Polish university students as their spiritual advisor. The Cold War was at its peak. Communist propagandists were trying to win the hearts and minds of the Polish people.

Like every one of his generation in Poland, Ted was exposed at school to communist propaganda but was fortunate to learn Poland’s history from family members and patriotic school teachers. During his school years in Poland, he developed a lifelong interest in history and journalism. Discouraged by life under communism, he emigrated to the United States in 1970.

In 1973, Ted started his journalistic career at the Voice of America, a taxpayer-funded U.S. government radio station in Washington, D.C., broadcasting to audiences overseas since 1942. He began as a radio announcer with VOA’s Polish Service. In 1982, he was in charge of all radio broadcasts to Poland and oversaw their expansion during the communist regime’s crackdown on the independent Solidarity labor union.

By providing uncensored news and interviews with Solidarity activists and independent experts, the Voice America broadcasts to Poland had millions of listeners and successfully countered the communist regime’s misinformation and propaganda campaigns. During that time, Ted filed reports for VOA’s Polish and English programs.

One of many people Ted interviewed during his career at VOA was Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, the future Pope John Paul II. In his book about John Paul II, Ted explains how the interview, conducted when Cardinal Wojtyła visited Washington, D.C. in 1976 – two years before being elected pope – revealed what the future head of the Catholic Church thought about the United States and secular liberal values. At that time, few people in the West knew about Karol Wojtyła or understood the whole meaning and impact of his views on women, family, and sexual ethics.

In the late 1980s, Ted traveled to Poland as a VOA reporter with Vice President George H. Bush and reported on Solidarity’s successful campaign to undermine the power of the communist regime through peaceful protests. He interviewed Lech Wałesa while the Solidarity leader was still under police surveillance. He also interviewed many other human rights activists who would later become future leaders in democratic Poland.

As the communist regimes started disintegrating in the early 1990s, Ted Lipien expanded VOA radio and television programs in Central and Easter Europe by working with local broadcasters eager to replace communist propaganda with objective journalism. In 1993, he went to Europe to continue VOA program placement activities. Working from an office in Munich, Germany, Ted established partnerships between VOA and hundreds of regional radio and television stations. In 1995, he became director of the International Broadcasting Bureau Regional Eurasia Marketing and Program Placement Office based in Prague, the Czech Republic.

During the Balkan war, Ted went to Sarajevo, Bosnia, to help a multiethnic radio station in that city carry Voice of America and Radio Free Europe programs. Shortly after U.S. and coalition forces liberated Afghanistan from Taliban rule, he negotiated and signed agreements for 24-hour VOA broadcasts on an FM station in Kabul. A few weeks before the fall of the Saddam regime, Ted concluded successful negotiations to place Radio Sawa and Voice of America programs on FM stations in northern Iraq.

In November 2003, Ted returned to Washington and became director of VOA’s European Division. After the outbreak of ethnic violence in Kosovo in March 2004, he oversaw the expansion of television broadcasts in Serbian and Albanian. He also launched an online opinion journal New Europe Review published in 19 languages. With Vaclav Havel as a member of the New Europe Review‘s International Advisory Board, the journal featured articles and interviews on transatlantic relations with contributions from American and European experts and opinion makers. Ted was later in charge of the Eurasia Division at the Voice of America, where he was responsible for starting daily television news programs in Ukrainian during the Orange Revolution. He also started the first daily VOA television news program in Russian.

In September 2005, Ted was made VOA’s acting Associate Director for Central Programming. He received several awards for his work at the Voice of America and the International Broadcasting Bureau. Both entities reported to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG, later renamed the U.S. Agency for Global Media – USAGM) appointed by the President of the United States to oversee non-military international broadcasts financed by the U.S. Congress. Ted retired from VOA, and U.S. government service, in the spring of 2006.

While working in Europe, Ted started researching for his book about Pope John Paul II, focusing on the pope’s views on women and family. He spent part of his vacations in Poland collecting information in Kraków and the pope’s birthplace in Wadowice. During his research, he found numerous accounts of Wojtyła’s encounters with women as a student and a young priest and some of the future pope’s early statements on gender issues never before published in the West.

After his return to the United States in 2003, Ted continued his study of political propaganda and its effects on the interpretation of history, government policies, diplomacy, media, and public opinion. As it became clear that reliance on propaganda and lack of objective intelligence analysis produced some poor policy decisions leading up to the Iraq War, Ted started writing about the impact of propaganda and censorship on media reporting. In 2006, he founded FreeMediaOnline.org, a California-based non-profit organization that supports press freedom and independent journalism worldwide. He served as President of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) from December 18, 2020, to January 23, 2021.

Ted received a BA degree in international relations from George Washington University and is a Phi Beta Kappa member. He is fluent in Polish, speaks Russian, and has a working knowledge of several Slavic and West European languages. He is married to Deborah Croyle. They live in Portland, Oregon.