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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 October 2006, 14:16 GMT
The press in Germany
German press graphic

Germany's newspaper readers are well served, with nearly 400 serious dailies to choose from.

The vast majority of these are regionally or locally based, reflecting the country's strong federal structure.

Only a handful of papers have national distribution and, even then, they often have their main editorial offices in regional cities, rather than in the capital Berlin.

Latest figures indicate 305 local, regional and national papers are sold in Germany for every 1,000 inhabitants. This compares well with other European countries.

The World Association of Newspapers said in its 2005 report that Germany was in fifth place in the world for newspaper sales - 21.5m copies sold daily. But this represents a 2.5% drop over 2004; in fact readership has been in decline since shortly after German reunification in 1990.

Press ownership is dominated by a number of large media companies. Some of these experienced a temporary upsurge in demand following reunification, but Germany's economic difficulties have since led to a downturn in advertising revenue and sales. This has in turn meant shrinkage and job cuts on many titles.

In an attempt to brighten their somewhat staid, yet worthy image, many German papers have introduced lifestyle supplements and run accompanying internet sites. But layouts still seem old-fashioned when compared with other European papers, and the use of colour is only now becoming widespread.

Statistics suggest there is still a long way to go to win over younger readers as a base for future expansion. One German daily - Die Welt - launched a compact edition published alongside the broadsheet in 2004 in an attempt to buck this trend.

Main papers

Berliner Zeitung

Based: Berlin
Founded: 1945
Circulation: 177,000 (2006)
Owner: David Montgomery, VSS and Mecom Group

The centre-left Berliner Zeitung is the only East German title to achieve national prominence since unification. It was relaunched in 1997 with a completely new design. The daily says its journalists come "from east and west", and it styles itself as a "young, modern and dynamic" paper for the whole of Germany. In November 2005 the paper was bought by the British businessman David Montgomery - arousing fears of job cuts amongst its staff.


Based: Hamburg
Founded: 1952
Circulation: 3.7m (2006)
Owner: Axel Springer Verlag

Germany's biggest-selling national paper is written in tabloid style, with the customary mix of celebrity news, politics, sport, sex, crime and horoscopes. But it is printed in broadsheet format, which can make its pages appear cluttered. Within Germany's political spectrum, the paper occupies a right-of-centre position.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Based: Frankfurt am Main
Founded: 1949
Circulation: 363,000 (2006)
Owner: Verlag der Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung GmbH
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is the foremost heavyweight broadsheet paper in Germany. Its layout is sober, with a minimum of pictures. It runs a number of sections, including economics, finance and culture. Its discursive commentaries reflect a conservative, centre-right position. The paper does not have one single editor-in-chief, but is edited by a committee of five. The FAZ says it is delivered to 148 countries every day.

Frankfurter Rundschau

Based: Frankfurt am Main
Founded: 1945
Circulation: 156,000 (2006)
Owner: Druck- und Verlagshaus Frankfurt am Main GmbH
The layout of the Frankfurter Rundschau has a more modern feel than that of its neighbour, the Frankfurter Allgemeine. Its political orientation is also in marked contrast. The Rundschau defines itself as "left-liberal". It states that "independence, social justice and fairness" are some of the guiding principles underpinning its journalism.

Sueddeutsche Zeitung

Based: Munich
Founded: 1945
Circulation: 433,000 (2006)
Owner: Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH
The centre-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung has the largest circulation of the quality broadsheets in Germany. The paper says it reaches 1.1m readers every day, and that those readers are "highly educated and at the top of the career ladder". Despite its relative success, it has also had to cope with the effects of Germany's economic difficulties. In 2003 it had to close down the regional edition it had launched for Germany's most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Der Tagesspiegel

Based: Berlin
Founded: 1945
Circulation: 135,000 (2006)
Owner: Verlag der Tagesspiegel GmbH
The liberal Tagesspiegel is based in western Berlin, a short distance away from where the Wall used to divide the city. The paper says it is the only quality paper in the capital whose circulation has risen since Berlin was re-united. Despite this, it is still associated with the western half of the metropolis. In recent years, the paper has undergone a design re-vamp, introducing more colour and a clearer typeface.

die tageszeitung

Based: Berlin
Founded: 1979
Circulation: 57,000 (2006)
Owner: taz collective
The tageszeitung was founded more than 25 years ago as an alternative to the mainstream press. The paper sees itself as "irreverent, commercially independent, intelligent and entertaining". It is very much a campaigning paper and adopts left-wing positions on issues of the day. Since 1992 it has been owned by a collective with more than 6,000 paying members.

Die Welt

Based: Berlin
Founded: 1946
Circulation: 270,000 (2006)
Owner: Axel Springer Verlag
The centre-right Die Welt is the main quality paper of the publishers Axel Springer, which also own Bild. Die Welt says its journalism is "liberal and cosmopolitan", and that it is distributed to more than 130 countries each day. In May 2004 the paper launched Welt Kompakt, a smaller weekday edition catering to younger readers. Welt Kompakt is about half the size of the parent paper with a focus on news rather than comment.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


Country profile: Germany
14 Jan 04 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Germany
20 Dec 03 |  Country profiles

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