I. THE FUNDAMENTALS OF THE COMPANY
The purpose of the company is the collection, processing and distribution of news, archival and image material of any kind. For this purpose, a global network of editors and reporters provides their own reporting, which is impartial and independent of any ideologies, economic and financial groups or governments. This is stipulated in the articles of association of the German Press Agency. Employees and management alike feel bound by this.
All types of media are supplied with this material: newspapers, magazines and broadcasters as well as online and mobile service providers. Parliaments, federations, foundations and companies are also dpa customers and represent, alongside the media, increasingly important sources of revenue.
With its news products, the company operates mainly in Germany. The 180 dpa shareholders are also drawn from the circle of domestic customers. However, dpa services are now also offered and distributed abroad, in more than 100 countries, in German as well as Arabic, English and Spanish. As a result, dpa helps to spread German issues and the German perspective abroad and to promote the important values of press freedom and independence.
1. Overall economic and sector-specific conditions
The economic situation in Germany in 2017 was marked by a strong and steady economic growth. The reasons for this, according to the assessment by the Federal Statistics Office, are largely domestic. Price-adjusted private consumer spending was 2% higher than the previous year. German exports increased by 6.3%. According to calculations by the Federal Statistical Office, the price-adjusted gross domestic product in 2017 was 2.2% higher than in the previous year. The German economy grew for the eighth year in a row.
The German newspaper and magazine market, which is dpa’s main market, was largely stable in 2017. This is documented by figures from the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Media-Analyze (agma) from July of last year. According to their survey, daily newspapers reached 40.6 million people nationwide. That represented a loss of 600,000 readers within a year. However, the previous year’s decline of 1.1 million readers was still significantly greater. Currently, 57.9% (Media Analysis 2016: 59.2%) of the German-speaking population aged 14 years or older read a daily newspaper.
Nearly half of the population reads regional titles (46.9%), which corresponds to 32.9 million daily readers. Newspapers bought at newstands reach almost 11 million and cross-regional subscription newspapers have 3.2 million readers. In addition to the strong presence of newspapers in the 30+ age group, one third of 14 to 29-year-olds (32.7%) are also daily readers of newspapers.
Reading a magazine is a regular habit for nine out of 10 people in the German-speaking population. Nevertheless, the reach of magazines is declining slightly. According to agma, a total of 62.8 million people nationwide were readers of the 155 consumer magazines surveyed. That is the equivalent of 89.6% of the population aged 14 or over. In the previous year’s magazines media anaylsis, published in January 2017, the figure was 90.2%.
According to the German Audit Bureau of Circulation (IVW), in 2017 the circulation decline of daily newspapers eased off considerably, which can be cautiously welcomed as an encouraging sign. On the other hand, there is a clear increase in the popularity of the digital editions of daily newspapers. E-papers saw daily sales of 1.22 million during the fourth quarter of 2017. That represents an increase of more than 20% compared to the previous year (Q4/2016: 1 million electronic editions).
All in all, 2017 was a year marked by increased attempts to hinder and influence the free media. A particularly blatant example of this was Turkey, where as a result of the failed coup around 150 media organizations were shut down, according to Reporters Without Borders. Apart from the Die WELT reporter Deniz Yücel, who was imprisoned for a lengthy period, over 100 journalists were arrested. In this climate of intimidation, dpa, as an international news agency, has a special duty of care towards its Turkey-based correspondents.
However, there have also been attempts in other parts of the world to discredit and hinder the free press. In the United States in particular, this has been apparent since the start of the Donald Trump presidency. Attacks on the established media – usually via Twitter – were an everyday occurrence last year. EU member state Hungary has also restricted press freedom. Prime Minister Orbán and his government control a large part of the media landscape – critical voices are rarely heard any more.
However, these upheavals have had a positive counteractive effect. Despite persistent discussions about the loss of significance of classic media, lying press allegations and the phenomenon of so-called fake news, there are clear signs of an increased trust in journalism. According to the international study, the “Edelman Trust Barometer,” journalism that is carried out by traditional newspapers like newspapers and TV channels, as well as serious online media, has seen a significant gain in trust among the population: with a global increase of 5 percentage points to 59%. At the same time, there is a parallel lost of trust in social media across the globe. According to the Edelman study, in Germany there is a growing trust gap between journalism (61%) and platforms (40%). The loss of trust in social networks has become so significant that big companies, like for example Unilever recently, are now considering halting advertising on these platforms.