News and press agency

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As news and press agencies , upstream companies are called mass media , which offer the latest news about world events to the corresponding media, companies and organizations as editorially and multimedia pre-prepared reports for sale. Press and news agencies play a central role in the global flow of news . They are considered to be the key institutions and "invisible nervous system" of the media landscape. News agencies are both privileged places of knowledge production and, because of their global scope, exposed institutions of knowledge transfer. News agencies operate as private or state-owned companies and are linked to one another by exchange agreements. Out of a total of around 140 news agencies worldwide, only 20 are free of state influence.

Most of the international news broadcast on online / social media platforms, TV, radio and newspapers / print in the Western Hemisphere comes from the three global news agencies Associated Press (AP) and Thomson Reuters from New York City, as well as Agence France-Presse (AFP) from Paris. The German Press Agency (dpa) is the market leader in Germany, the Austria Press Agency (APA) in Austria and the Swiss Depeschenagentur (SDA) in Switzerland . The main financial services news agencies are Reuters and Bloomberg . The Chinese state news agency Xinhua , the Russian Rossija Sevodnja and the Qatar-based Al Jazeera differ from the offerings of Western news agencies that determine the market .

The pioneer of the modern news agency is Charles-Louis Havas , who founded the Agence Havas news agency in Paris in 1835 , a forerunner of AFP . Between 1870 and 1934 the worldwide news market was dominated by the much criticized Wolff - Reuter - Havas cartel.


The historian Volker Barth, lecturer at the Historical Institute of the University of Cologne , came to the following assessment in his habilitation thesis Wa (h) re facts: Knowledge productions of global news agencies 1835-1939 , published in 2020 : News agencies structure the perception of the world and, like humans, determine the environment learns. The influence of these central actors in global news production can hardly be overestimated. With the exception of reports from their own correspondents, newspapers, TV and radio stations as well as electronic information providers receive all news from news agencies. News agencies select, classify and edit information and thus decide which local event will receive global attention or become a global event. News agencies are journalistic service companies that use specialized production processes to produce news items in order to then make a profit from the sale of the news item. The economic framework means that agencies primarily offer reports that meet the expectations of their customers. Nevertheless, news agencies define themselves as guarantors of truth and promise credible, reliable news. Agencies pride themselves on providing neither comments nor interpretations. They categorically assert factuality and neutrality of their news. This postulate of “pure facts” characterizes your entrepreneurial self-image and the public self-portrayal. Barth, on the other hand, criticizes the fact that news agencies operate under the double premise of producing customer- and profit-oriented goods as well as delivering true facts. “You are selling the message.” Barth concluded.

The communication scientist Oliver Boyd-Barrett (England) and Terhi Rantanen (Finland) derive their 1998 publicized fiction book The Globalization of News (dt .: globalization of messages ) with the hint that news agencies direct the message flows across the globe, some for more than 160 Years. They are the first international, yes global media companies in the world and have also become the driving force behind globalization . Despite their immense importance for the daily information of the world about the world, the agencies disappear in our daily life behind their abbreviations at the edges of the reporting in the press and radio.

The Austrian media manager Wolfgang Vyslozil describes the role of news agencies as follows: “News agencies are rarely in the focus of public interest. Yet they are one of the most influential and at the same time one of the least known media genres. They are key institutions of substantial importance for every media system. They are the invisible nerve center that connects all parts of this system ”.

Structure and functioning of news agencies

From event to message

News agencies produce content for all media and are also used by all media. In addition to daily newspapers, internet portals, television and radio stations, many associations and political actors as well as commercial enterprises also use the news agencies to obtain information.

Agencies are so-called gatekeepers . You decide which messages are relevant to be processed and forwarded, which events are worth reporting and which are not, or for which events it is necessary to send correspondents or reporters . You make a preselection. Editors write the news; freelance journalists are often hired for a fee.

The agencies are subject to a conflict of objectives: On the one hand, their reports based on journalistic ethics should be as objective, complete and representative as possible. They are therefore considered to be reliable and well researched. If an important news agency sends an incorrect report, it is often taken over by the editorial staff without being checked. Errors are therefore corrected and forwarded as quickly as possible. On the other hand, the agencies have to satisfy a wide variety of customers, who for their part often run tendentious reporting.

The reports are sorted by department , the various departments have different abbreviations in the news agencies, for example pl stands for politics and wi for economy. Furthermore, every message is categorized with thematic keywords and can therefore be classified in terms of content for the editorial team at first glance.

An agency's message is peppered with abbreviations. This conceals information on the time of dispatch, length, priority, department and others. The first sentence of an agency report is called the lead . It should be designed in such a way that it encourages further reading, reproduces the content of the article briefly in a maximum of 30 words and precisely and is perfect. A message should not be longer than 700 characters, a report between 4000 and 5000 characters. Usually, radio-related ten-line reports are sent out immediately and supplemented with more detailed summaries within the next few hours.

The editors decide which services are subscribed to and delivered with. The prices of the services are based on their scope and the sold circulation of the respective publication; in the case of electronic media, they are based on the range . So there is a fair price within the press with regard to the news agencies.

The advantages of news agencies are timeliness , universality and the rapid delivery of reports on current events. The disadvantage is that by setting your own priorities, messages are lost and others are emphasized or certain facts can be presented one-sided - and this with great significance. Because: A news agency is a news wholesaler. It is criticized that scientific or news from developing countries are severely underrepresented.

Editorial processing

The articles of the news agencies are either processed in the press and supplemented with their own research results and information or they are simply copied verbatim and given the abbreviation of the respective agency at the beginning of the article.

The editors-in-chief or department heads of the respective publication are responsible for the result under press law (publisher liability), but their liability is significantly limited by the agency privilege .



Already in pre-antiquity and antiquity there were the first approaches to an orderly communication system. Mainly for state-political or military purposes, which essentially depended on the development of writing and a postal system . The Roman general Caesar tried to counteract the spying out and falsification of information with encryption . Messages were conveyed either by carrier pigeons , by messengers or by travelers who brought messages from other areas. As early as the 14th century, one of the main trading centers for the news trade was Venice , where diplomats or business people attached special news letters to the reports to their clients for general information.

The origins of the first professional news brokers go back to the European courts of the 15th and 16th centuries. The French King Louis XI. founded its own intelligence service in 1464. A little later, the Thurn and Taxis noble family took over communication for the Habsburg imperial court. From these experiences developed Thurn und Taxis under Maximilian I , founded in 1490 Habsburg Post . In the early modern period, law firms were set up in numerous courtyards that recorded and processed incoming messages and, in this respect, are comparable to the editorial rooms of later commercial news agencies.

For Italy, England and Germany there are references to “news brokers” and news suppliers for the 16th century. In addition, in the 16th and 17th centuries, trading families operating across Europe, such as the Fugger and Rothschilds, set up transnational correspondence and news networks. Towards the end of the 18th century, with the French Revolution, interest in international news increased significantly. National newspapers began to install their own foreign correspondents.

Founding of the modern news agencies Havas, Reuters, Wolff and AP

The news agencies founded in the 19th century differed fundamentally from these forerunners. With the establishment of the first transnational telegraph lines in the 1830s and the laying of submarine cables, the newly established news agencies Havas, Reuters, Wolff and the AP were the first catalysts of a globalizing and networked world. They organized and institutionalized the worldwide circulation of large amounts of information in the form of news. Accordingly, news agencies are used by scientists and a. classified as " key figures in the history of globalization ".

The world's first news agencies with a modern and sustainable character were founded between 1835 and 1851 by Charles-Louis Havas (founder of the Havas agency , the forerunner of AFP ), Paul Julius Reuter (founder of Reuters ) and Bernhard Wolff (founder of the predecessor of dpa ) called. In 1846, five New York journalists founded the Associated Press, the world's largest news agency, based on the Havas agency model .

These news agencies designed and accompanied the transition to a public news system, the beginnings of democratic, political and economic publics and the emergence of the mass media for the so-called “4th Violence". The transmission of messages was electrified, the message to the commodity.

Agence Havas

Charles-Louis Havas (1783–1858), founder of Agence Havas , today's AFP

Charles-Louis Havas is considered the founder of the oldest news agency . The world's first news agency, Agence Havas, emerged from his lithographic press service Bureau Havas on October 22, 1835 . Havas' workplace was in a 80sqm office in the 51 Rue Jean-Jacques-Rousseau in the 1st arrondissement . Havas had a sign with the company's motto Vite et bien (German: Fast and good ) put up on the outer facade of the office building . Havas has since been regarded as a pioneer and trailblazer in the collection and dissemination of news as a commodity and consequently as the founder of the internationally operating news and press agencies.

Havas' agency grew steadily. For the flow of information with the continent, Havas used the emerging telegraph lines , for which he received an exclusive concession from the French state. A worldwide network of correspondents reported from Crimea, Italy, Mexico and the United States. Havas' political connections went so far that he was considered the exclusive supplier of political information and developed an almost “indecent relationship between the state and the press”. In the course of the 1830s Havas had made all 600 newspapers and periodicals in France largely dependent on the news that he distributed. Havas had also undoubtedly become the most important telegraphic news agency of its time in the world.

The French writer Honoré de Balzac expressed his criticism of these circumstances :

"Le public peut croire qu'il existe plusieurs journaux, mais il n'y a en définitive, qu'un seul journal. (...) Un bureau dirigé par Monsieur Havas."

"The public may believe that there are several newspapers, but in the end there is only one newspaper. (...) An office under the direction of Mr. Havas."


Paul Julius Reuter (1816–1899), founder of the Reuters agency

At Havas, Paul Julius Reuter learned the business of running an international news agency from 1848 . In 1851 Reuter founded his own news agency Reuters in Aachen . An agreement with pigeon fancier Heinrich Geller secured Reuter the provision of 40 winged couriers that would allow him to be hours faster than the mail train. With its carrier pigeons, Reuters also closes the telegraph gap between Aachen and Brussels and becomes the fastest transmitter of information from France and Prussia. However, the laying of new lines makes this transmission route superfluous after just one year. In March 1850, a report appeared in L'Indépendence Belge in Brussels that Reuters had promised to deliver all important stock market prices and news for the Belgian, French and British financial houses as well as for the press. With the expansion of the telegraph network and Reuters move to London in 1851, Reuters began to grow rapidly into the world's largest news agency. Werner von Siemens advised Reuter to go to London. Reuter's Office finally established itself there from 1851.

In October of the same year, Reuter opened a tiny telegraph office in the arcades of the Royal Exchange - right next to the Bank of England and the telegraph office. So it was ideally positioned for the cable traffic through the canal that was just beginning. The connection of the villages of Calais and Dover by submarine cable, completed in 1851, made a daily reacting European financial market possible for the first time. The continental stock exchanges such as Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Athens were now able to react quickly to developments in London, the center of the financial world; Brokers and business people were informed about the European opening and closing prices on a daily basis. In fact, the inauguration of the submarine cable marked the beginning of arbitrage business, i.e. almost simultaneous trading in different markets, taking advantage of local price differences. The telegraph had thus become the pacemaker in international business concerts. The Director of Electric Telegraph Julius Reuter wanted to shine as its conductor .

The first service Reuter offered was the transmission of the London and Paris stock exchange prices, twice a day and in each direction. There was also the receipt of quotes from Brussels, Amsterdam and Vienna. None of this was exclusive. But Reuter, with his own enthusiasm, claimed that as a telegraph expert he was superior to the competition in the news trade. So he soon succeeded in gaining the first subscribers.

Only then did Reuter secure the first real exclusive rights: the news from the Far East that arrived in the port of Trieste on the steamers of the Austrian Lloyd . This allowed Reuter to provide the newspapers in Manchester and Liverpool, the two centers of global textile production, with the latest raw material prices as quickly as possible. Remarkable economic news was also included - for example, in May 1853, the sensational news: “ Japan will open within a year. Free ports are already being selected. "

Reuter gradually linked the stock exchange listings and business news to political and entertaining news. To this end, he built up his own network of correspondents. However, initially there was no success in this area. The London press, especially the London Times , was unimpressed by Reuter's offer of a lightning-fast " telegraphic summary of the very latest news from abroad ". This attitude only changed with the laying of a new submarine cable, the latest tentacle for Reuters subscriber acquisition. Thanks mainly to a constantly expanding network of correspondents, most of the news from America, India, China, Australia or the Cape soon ran first on Reuters equipment. The agency had become the medium par excellence.

Reuter made the business of his life when, with the help of sponsors, he had a telegraph line moved from England to Norderney in 1865 . Just four years later, he sold the cable rights to the UK government for £ 726,000 - six times what he had invested. Otto von Bismarck , who became the first Chancellor of the newly founded German Reich in 1871, distrusted Reuter and suspected the news dealer of acting contrary to German interests.

Wolff's Telegraphic Bureau

The Berlin publishing and news entrepreneur Bernhard Wolff founded Wolffs Telegraphisches Bureau (WTB) in 1849 . After the telegraph lines in Prussia were released for private transmission, Wolff published messages received by telegram as well as the stock exchange prices from London and Paris. A short time later a formal correspondence office was set up, which made it possible for all Berlin newspapers and interested parties from the banking and trading world to receive the news. Soon afterwards, reporting on major foreign policy events began. Wolff's Telegraphic Bureau is considered the forerunner of the dpa .

Wolff Reuter Havas Agreement: News cartel from 1870 to 1934

The founding agencies Wolff, Reuters and Havas dominated the global news market a few years after they were founded. As early as July 15, 1859, the three founding agencies agreed in writing to agree on territories and, from 1870 onwards, in the style of their imperialist governments, defined their spheres of global influence in a cartel treaty . The content of the cartel agreements, which in fact meant a worldwide monopoly for collecting and disseminating information, was the detailed distribution of the market. London-based Reuters received exclusive rights to South Africa, the Netherlands and their colonies, as well as the Far East and the rest of the British Empire. The Paris-based Havas received France and its colonies, as well as Italy, Spain and Portugal. The Ottoman Empire, Egypt and Belgium were jointly awarded to Reuters and Havas. The Berlin-based WTB received Germany, Scandinavia, St. Petersburg and Moscow. All other regions, such as Switzerland, Austria-Hungary and the Danube Principalities , were declared neutral territories in which the three contractual partners could each work independently without any restrictions.

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, reporting, especially by Reuters, was viewed increasingly critically by both the German press and the German public. At least since the Boer War (1899 to 1902), the chain of deliberately distorting facts and containing false reports to the detriment of Germany did not break. The protest of the German press during the First Morocco Crisis (1904–1906) was even sharper . The storm of protest from their own reporting from the crisis area also united Germans across all party lines. The dependence on Wolff's Telegraphic Bureau and " the ingenious influence of the press by the big Reuters and Havas telegraph offices " were lamented by the nationalist right to the liberal left .

For a long time, the cartel was under criticism from various quarters due to alleged false reports and obvious lies. The saying “This is a Havas” (meaning: this is a lie, nonsense or rubbish) is particularly common in Switzerland. The former French news agency Havas still lives ingloriously on many people's lips because of its false reports during the First World War . After more than 60 years, the cartel was lifted by the National Socialists in 1934 . Since then, direct exchange agreements have also been in effect with the Associated Press , which was included in the cartel for a fee as early as 1893 and since then has owned the reporting rights for North and Central America.

After the Second World War

After the Second World War , German news agencies initially did not receive any licenses from the Allies. The German newspapers relied on the Allied news agencies. Each occupying power set up its own news agency in its zone.

The German News Service was founded in the British zone of occupation and was converted into the German Press Service (dpd) in 1947 . The German messages were sent from Hamburg by telegraph to London and from there relayed to the British occupation zone by radio.

The French founded the Rheinische Nachrichtenagentur (Rheina) in Baden-Baden, which was jointly owned by the French military government and the newspaper publishers of the French occupation zone . The agency was later converted to the Süddeutsche Nachrichtenagentur ( Süda ) .

In the American occupation zone , the agency was initially called the German General News Agency (DANA), then the German News Agency (DENA). It was based in Bad Nauheim . In addition to the activities of a news agency, young German journalists were also trained here. In 1949 the dpa was founded from the merger of DENA, dpd and Süda .

The Soviet News Office (SNB) was initially established in the Soviet occupation zone . His successor was the General German Intelligence Service ( ADN ), the only and at the same time politically dependent news agency in the GDR.

News agencies (as of 2020)


The world's most important news agencies include (in alphabetical order):

World leader Associated Press (AP)

Germany, Austria, Switzerland

Picture agencies

Video agencies

  • NonstopNews
  • NEWS5
  • Ruptly
  • TeleNewsNetwork


After the German reunification , the state news agency of the GDR, the ADN , was converted into a private GmbH and merged with the DDP - formerly Germany's second largest news agency from 1971. The focus was on domestic and regional political reporting.


  • Jianming He: The news agencies in Germany. History and present. Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 1996, ISBN 3-631-49394-0 .
  • Christian Resing: News agencies - service providers for newspapers. In: Federal Association of German Newspaper Publishers: Newspapers 2006. Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-939705-00-4 , pp. 244-253.
  • Yasmin Schulten-Jaspers: The Future of News Agencies. Situation, development, prognosis. Baden-Baden: Nomos 2013. ISBN 978-3-8487-0691-4 .
  • Dietz Schwiesau, Josef Ohler: The news in the press, radio, television, news agency and internet. A Manual for Education and Practice. (= List Journalistische Praxis), Munich 2003, ISBN 3-471-78309-1 .
  • Laszlo Trakovits: The news professionals. Why quality journalism is indispensable for our democracy (dpa). Frankfurt / Main: Frankfurter Societäts-Medien. ISBN 978-3-95601-112-2 .
  • Peter Zschunke: Agency journalism. Writing messages every second. UVK, Konstanz 2000, ISBN 3-89669-306-9 .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Quoted from Wolfgang Vyslozi (2005) in Michael Segbers: Goods news. How news agencies tick. UVK Verlagsgesellschaft , Konstanz, 2007.
  2. Volker Barth: What (h) re facts: Knowledge productions of global news agencies 1835–1939 (=  critical studies on historical science . Volume 233 ). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2020, ISBN 978-3-525-37085-8 , p. 20 ( [accessed on March 7, 2020] also habilitation thesis, University of Cologne, 2017).
  3. ^ Peter Maier: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland: News Agencies. , Version dated September 2, 2010
  4. dpa joins the association of independent news agencies "Gruppe 39". In: Der Tagesspiegel , September 6, 2019
  5. Volker Barth: What (h) re facts: Knowledge productions of global news agencies 1835-1939. Page 14, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2019
  6. Volker Barth: What (h) re facts: Knowledge productions of global news agencies 1835–1939 (=  critical studies on historical science . Volume 233 ). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2020, ISBN 978-3-525-37085-8 , p. 9 ( [accessed on March 7, 2020] also habilitation thesis, University of Cologne, 2017).
  7. ^ Grimme Lab: News Agencies. Online dossier of the Grimme Institute, published on March 11, 2018
  8. Quoted from Wolfgang Vyslozi (2005) in Michael Segbers: Goods news. How news agencies tick. UVK Verlagsgesellschaft , Konstanz, 2007.
  9. Volker Barth: What (h) re facts: Knowledge productions of global news agencies 1835–1939 (=  critical studies on historical science . Volume 233 ). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2020, ISBN 978-3-525-37085-8 , p. 9 ( [accessed on March 7, 2020] also habilitation thesis, University of Cologne, 2017).
  10. Volker Barth: What (h) re facts: Knowledge productions of global news agencies 1835–1939 (=  critical studies on historical science . Volume 233 ). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2020, ISBN 978-3-525-37085-8 , p. 10 ( [accessed on March 7, 2020] also habilitation thesis, University of Cologne, 2017).
  11. Volker Barth: What (h) re facts: Knowledge productions of global news agencies 1835-1939. Page 13, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2019
  12. Volker Barth: What (h) re facts: Knowledge productions of global news agencies 1835-1939. Page 23, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2019
  13. Carole Bibily: October 22, 1835: creation de l'agence Havas, future AFP. Les Echos, October 22, 2011
  14. Terhi Rantanen: When News Was New. Page 31, Wiley-Blackwell Verlag, 2009
  15. Mark Tungate: Adland: A Global History of Advertising , page 179, Publisher: Kogan Page, 2007
  16. ^ Christoph Rosol: This Strippenzieher. Süddeutsche Zeitung, May 19, 2010
  17. Mark Tungate: Adland: A Global History of Advertising , page 180, Publisher: Kogan Page, 2007
  18. Carole Bibily: October 22, 1835: creation de l'agence Havas, future AFP. Les Echos, October 22, 2011
  19. ^ Christoph Rosol: This Strippenzieher. Süddeutsche Zeitung, May 19, 2010
  20. July 21, 1816: Paul Julius Reuter is born. Westdeutscher Rundfunk, July 21, 2006
  21. ^ John Hohenberg: Foreign Correspondence: The Great Reporters and Their Times. Page 65, Valley of Oaxaca Publishing House, 1995
  22. AFP: 1859: Agreement with Reuter and Wolff. Agence France-Presse company history chronology
  23. ^ Peter Maier: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland: News Agencies. Version dated September 2, 2010
  24. Dominik Geppert: Press Wars: Public and Diplomacy in German-British Relations (1896-1912) , page 78, German Historical Institute London (editor), Volume 64, 2007
  25. ^ Lutz M. Hagen: Information quality of news: measuring methods and their application to the services of news agencies. Page 20, Springer-Verlag, 2013
  26. Dominik Geppert: Press Wars: Public and Diplomacy in German-British Relations (1896-1912) , page 78/79, German Historical Institute London (editor), Volume 64, 2007
  27. Havas ( Memento from April 28, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) . In: The Dictionary of Idioms . 2013.
  28. ^ Walter Heim: Newer newspaper fables . In: Swiss Folklore. Korrespondenzblatt , Vol. 44 (1954), pp. 68-75, ISSN  0048-9522 .
  29. ^ Walter Brunner: Poisoned sources. The First World War in Sundgau in the newspapers of Northwestern Switzerland , page 3.
  30. ^ Lutz M. Hagen: Information quality of news: measuring methods and their application to the services of news agencies. Page 20, Springer-Verlag, 2013

Web links

Wiktionary: News agency  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations