English Reading Exercises for B2 – Media wars

1. Replace the underlined works with the correct form of the phrasal verbs.

find out      hole up      let on      make out      play on      set up      take in      zoom in on

I can’t believe you were deceived by his tricks!

The criminals established false bank accounts.

I hate advertising that takes advantage of our fears.

Mark told us that he was planning a surprise for Anna.

The police discovered what the criminals where planning.

The media paid special attention to the government’s military plans.

He claimed that he was rich, but it wasn’t true.

The bank robbers were hiding in a friend’s house.

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1 mother’s / father’s mother  

2 mother’s / father’s sister

3 brother’s / sister’s daughters

2. Read the text. What does the real story behind The War of the Worlds show us?

‘Ladies and gentlemen, I have a grave announcement to make. Incredible as it may seem ___ those strange beings who landed in the Jersey farmlands tonight are ___ an invading ar from the planet Mars.’ – Orson Welles reading The War of the Words

This announcement in 1934 supposedly scared a million Americans into believing that thousands of their fellow citizens were fighting for their lives against giant aliens. It came from a radio play, read by Orson Welles, that was based on HG Wells’s famous 1898 novel The War of the Worlds, and it has become an American media legend. However, as we all know, legends are rarely based on the truth.

The arrival of the radio in the 1930s provided people with an exciting new channel of communication – but it also provided newspapers with unwanted competition. Throughout the decade, more and more people had come to rely on the radio for news, and newspapers had been losing income from advertising. In addition, many people were worried about its possible use as a form of mind control. The War of the Worlds gave newspapers the perfect excuse to exploit these fears and attack their rival as irresponsible. The day after the play was broadcast, newspaper front pages claimed the radio play had caused panic across the country, with people rioting and even committing suicide. However, the stories were fabricated and completely false. Recent research has shown that most people were listening to another radio station that evening, and there are no records of mass hysteria.

The newspapers of the time wanted the public to believe that new technology could not be trusted, and they did an extremely good job. For decades, the story of people’s reaction to The War of the Worlds was seen as an example of how the media could cause panic. It is only now that researchers are realising that the whole episode is an example of something even more worrying: it shows how the media could fabricate and maintain a lie for nearly a century.

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1 mother’s / father’s mother  

2 mother’s / father’s sister

3 brother’s / sister’s daughters

Reading Strategy

In a multiple-choice task:

1 Questions always appear in the same order as the information about them in the text.

2 The correct answer will match the meaning of what you find in the text, but it isn’t usually expressed in the same words.

3 When there’s a question about the main idea of the text or the author’s opinion, it usually appears last.

3. Read the Reading Strategy and the text again and choose the correct answers (a-d).

1 The announcer on the radio play in 1934

said American farmers were being attacked.

b suggested that what he was saying was difficult to believe.

explained that America was invading Mars.

d was suffering from a panic attack.

2 HG Wells’s famous novel

was adapted for the radio.

b deceived millions of people.

became famous in 1934.

d was about media manipulation.

3 Newspapers didn’t like the radio because

it was more exciting.

it controlled people.

it worried people.

it was a rival for income.

The stories in the newspapers about the play

were based on information from another radio station.

have been forgotten about today.

are only being questioned today.

explained what really happened.

The writer wants to show that

people can be make to believe that they are being attacked by aliens.

there wasn’t enough advertising for both the radio and newspapers in the 1930s.

the radio and newspapers are enemies.

the media can create a legend that is not true.

Show answers

1 mother’s / father’s mother  

2 mother’s / father’s sister

3 brother’s / sister’s daughters