Monthly Archives: May 2014

Cold War, Glos Ameryki, History, Media, Poland, Video, VOA

Tomlinson on Voice of America coverage of Pope John Paul II

Former Voice of America (VOA) director and former Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Chairman Ken Tomlinson, who died recently, told Voice of America two years ago that his most memorable moment at VOA was to visit the Polish Service and help arrange extensive news coverage of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Poland when the country was still under communist rule during the Cold War. The Pope’s visit to Poland helped the suppressed Solidarity trade union to intensify its peaceful struggle for democracy and eventually resulted in the fall of communism. Father Stefan Filipowicz, a Chicago-based Jesuit priest and former director of the Polish Service at Vatican Radio, provided religious commentary from a VOA studio in Washington during the coverage of the papal visit. Live audio transmission from Poland was provided to VOA by Vatican Radio.

Ken Tomlinson and his wife Rebecca later traveled to Rome with VOA Polish Service director Ted Lipien to meet Pope John Paul II who thanked the Voice of America for broadcasting news to his countrymen in Poland under communism.

Thanks to Ken Tomlinson’s support, funding from the Reagan administration and full bipartisan backing in the U.S. Congress, the Polish Service became one of the most successful language services in the history of VOA, with over 70% weekly audience reach in Poland in the late 1980s.

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Cold War, Glos Ameryki, History, Photo, Poland, VOA

Ted Lipien remembers Ken Tomlinson

Kenneth Y. Tomlinson

Ted Lipien remembers Ken Tomlinson

I met Ken Tomlinson for the first time in 1982 when he became Voice of America director and I was in charge of VOA broadcasts to Poland. Ken asked me what the Polish Service needed to expand its news coverage and later made sure we got everything we wanted: more employees in Washington and reporters in the U.S., more overseas correspondents and stringers, more money to cover Solidarity-related news stories in the U.S. and in Europe.

Ken Tomlinson understood that the Polish Service was at that moment in VOA’s history the key to the success of its mission. Our audience grew to over 70 percent of the population and at the end communism in Poland collapsed and democracy was peacefully restored. There is no doubt that Ken Tomlinson, the Voice of America, and especially Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, helped Ronald Reagan bring down “the evil empire” faster than it would have happened otherwise.

Still during the martial law in Poland in the 1980s, I traveled with Ken and his wife Rebecca to Rome to meet Pope John Paul II. It was a brief meeting at a general audience, but the Pope showed a lot of interest in our work and asked a few questions. He thanked us for VOA news broadcasts to his beloved country.

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Congress, Digital Journal, International Broadcasting, Public Diplomacy, VOA

Op-Ed: No propaganda, Voice of America need not fear reform bill | Digital Journal

By Ted Lipien Published May 2, 2014 by Digital Journal Washington – Mismanagement by senior executives threatens journalistic independence of Voice of America (VOA) much more than the bipartisan bill in Congress designed to reform U.S. international media outreach. There will be no government propaganda from VOA. One advantage of being my age (60) is that I have a longer view…

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