Where does our news come from?

This article is a supplement to both Orbits (2017) and Orbits Lower-Intermediate (2018) books.

Vocabulary: Media, blog, social media, distributor, propaganda, journalist, news/media outlet, economical, product placement, political, politician, election, pollute, reliable, …

The US 2016 election revealed a major problem in society. The problem is the lack of ‘media literacy’. Media literacy is the ability to understand news and information. Many people think that it’s easy to read a newspaper, but the 2016 election revealed that countless millions of Americans were duped by Russian propaganda, and they did not even know it. This article will firstly discuss the origin of news in the past and today. Secondly, a discussion of how Americans are getting their news information today. Finally, the consequences of this.

Firstly, how do we get our news is important to know. In the past, the news came from newspapers. These newspapers employed their own journalists who went out to get their own news stories. There are two problems with this, it is expensive to employ a team of journalists, and the news could only come from local sources. Consequently, newspapers, TV news, magazines, and news blogs now buy news stories from each other, and news distribution companies like Reuters and AFP. Both Reuters and AFP have journalists all over the world finding and getting information. News distributors can write one story, and sell it hundreds of times, which is a cheaper economical than each newspaper sending their own journalists to write one news story to be used only once.

Today, media outlets (newspapers, tv news, news magazines, and news blogs) are finding more difficult to be profitable. Consequently, the media needs to make money from new sources. One new source of money is to be paid to publish articles that are like advertising for companies. For instance, Japan Today often publishes information about new electronic products. US media often publishes stories about political candidates. Basically, anyone, for any reason can publish almost anything, but they must pay.

Secondly, the traditional media is no longer the main source of news and information anymore. Many people in the US now create information, or discover sources of information, from websites and blogs, and share these in their social media feed. Consequently, for some, friends’ Twitter and Facebook feeds have become important sources of information for many. Polluting this feed are advertisements and fake accounts.

Finally, there is increasing evidence that the Russian government manipulated the US 2016 election. They did this quite simply by adding to the social media news feed messages that oppose each political party. These messages amplified the political and racial divisions in the US leading to intense hatred of each side. What will happen next? Nobody knows.

In summary, our source of news and information is not reliable anymore. Now there are paid product placements, and paid political articles in our newsfeed. Additionally, our social media is polluted with paid ads and fake information designed to keep us away from making good rational decisions about life. Consequently, we need to pay careful attention as to the real source of news and information.

  1. Summarise what you understand from this article
  2. What information was new and interesting to you?
  3. What happened to the US election in 2016? Could this happen in Japan too?
  4. How can Japan protect itself from another country manipulating the social media and the next election?
  5. How do you feel about this topic?

Homework Quarter 2

WordEngine data will be downloaded on Monday the 30th July, and no more data will be collected until Quarter 3.

Oral Communication FB, B, & P

  • Review pronunciation, vocabulary and conversation strategies in Orbits units 1-12.
  • Prepare Orbits unit 11 & 12 vocabulary and article, including answers/ideas to the discussion questions.
  • Do WordEngine; get at least 210 correct responses each week, but aim for 300. WordEngine data will be downloaded on 30th July, so marks collection will end then.
  • Visit Word Plaza as much as possible (open from 11am to 6pm each weekday)
  • Final speaking tests will be 19th to 25th July (a little early, in case of typhoon interruptions), and may include any article from units 7 to 12. Possible topics:
  • Unit 7-12
  • Unit 8 Research Task
  • Your own research task for units 11 or 12
  • Final report is due 12pm, 30th July. I’ll be in the World Plaza probably from about 10am to 12pm. Please try to submit before this day (in class). New video recordings will be done on 9th/10th or 12th/13th July. Start your reports as soon as you can.
  • During the speaking tests:
  • – Prepare for your own test (review vocabulary, articles, pronunciation, conversation strategies, own research on the topic, etc)
  • – Bring your laptop and work on your final report.
  • Enjoy life

Communication Skills

  • Review pronunciation, vocabulary, mini dialogues, and conversation strategies in Orbits, units 1-6
  • Do WordEngine, at least 210 correct responses each week, aim for 300
  • Do extensive reading, about 4,000 words a week, keep your ER reports up to date
  • Visit World Plaza as much as possible (open from 11am to 6pm each weekday)
  • Speaking test possible topics (to be confirmed later):
    1. Into Literacy: Extensive Reading, p27-8
    1. Into Literacy: Book Clubs, p105-6
    1. Blog: Where Does Our News Come From?
    1. Extensive Reading: Introduce a book you’ve read recently
    1. Orbits: “Summary of what has happened in the story so far, and what you think may happen next, and why”.
    1. Extensive Reading: Introduce a book you’ve read recently
  • Enjoy life


  • Review vocabulary for articles already studied
  • Review Into Literacy Section 1, Basic Essay Structures, 12-25.
  • Review grammar in Into Literacy, p79-84.
  • Do WordEngine, 210 correct responses each week, aim for 300.
  • Do extensive reading, about 3,500 words a week, keep your ER reports up to date
  • Final Report: Task 5 & Portfolio, due in class 23rd July
  • Enjoy life