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Germany – (F3) Diversity of news sources

Score in short:

Most of the German news media rely on different sources, though there is a tendency towards one dominant news agency

Score in detail:

There were five universal news agencies in the German media market in 2008: Two national (dpa, ddp) and three international news agencies (AP, AFP and Reuters). In 2009, ddp and AP merged to DAPD. The biggest German news agency dpa was founded by a consortium of publishers in 1949 and has operated as a registered cooperative since then. Today about 190 associates (publishers, broadcasters, media companies) own dpa. If we compare the size and reach of these five news agencies, we can see that dpa dominates the market, but that the other four can compete to a limited degree:

Table 6. News agencies in Germany 2008

  dpa ddp AP AFP Reuters
Journalistic staff (permanent employees) 420 100 70 53 140
Reports per day 800 350 250 200 350
Number of bureaus in Germany 70 22 16 11 4
Number of countries with correspondents 93 70 165 97

Source: Grüll 2009, p. 17.

Grüll compared the distribution of these five agencies in the German news media by means of a survey. His sample covers 97 leading editors: 95.9 % of them use dpa, 52.6 % ddp, 48.5 % AP, 38.1 % Reuters, and 45.4 % AFP (Grüll 2009, p. 58.). Another longitudinal analysis confirms Grüll’s findings. From the 1990s to today, dpa has dominated the market, the other news agencies having shares between 30 % and 50 %. Significant changes show the shares of AP, which declined from 66.4 % in 1993 to 47.1 % in 2006, and AFP, which increased from 19.3 % to 47.8 % (Wilke 2007, p. 332). Hence, there is competition between news agencies in the German media market; at least half of the news media use more than one agency and the agencies have quite a strong domestic and foreign editorial staff.

Most media subscribe to a news agency, some of them even two or more. Nevertheless, these numbers do not provide any insight into whether the material from news agencies is actually used. Our respondents approved that domestic news is mostly produced by the investigated news media themselves. When asked how much material from news agencies is actually used, the interviewees stated that only 10 % to 30 % of the published and aired domestic news derives from agencies. In the case of foreign news, these numbers differ; especially N24 and use a great amount of agency reports.