News agency

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Reuters, Bonn 1988

A news agency is an organization that gathers news reports and sells them to subscribing news organizations, such as newspapers, magazines and radio and television broadcasters. News agencies are known for their press releases. A news agency may also be referred to as a wire service, newswire, or news service.

Although there are many news agencies around the world, three global news agencies, Agence France-Presse (AFP), the Associated Press (AP), and Reuters have offices in most countries of the world, cover all areas of media, and provide the majority of international news printed by the world's newspapers.[1] All three began with and continue to operate on a basic philosophy of providing a single objective news feed to all subscribers. Jonathan Fenby explains the philosophy:

To achieve such wide acceptability, the agencies avoid overt partiality. Demonstrably correct information is their stock in trade. Traditionally, they report at a reduced level of responsibility, attributing their information to a spokesman, the press, or other sources. They avoid making judgments and steer clear of doubt and ambiguity. Though their founders did not use the word, objectivity is the philosophical basis for their enterprises – or failing that, widely acceptable neutrality.[2]

Newspaper syndicates generally sell their material to one client in each territory only, while news agencies distribute news articles to all interested parties.


Only a few large newspapers could afford bureaus outside their home city; they relied instead on news agencies, especially Havas (founded 1835) in France—now known as Agence France-Presse (AFP)—and the Associated Press (founded 1846) in the United States. Former Havas employees founded Reuters in 1851 in Britain and Wolff in 1849 in Germany.[3] In 1865, Reuter and Wolff signed agreements with Havas's sons, forming a cartel designating exclusive reporting zones for each of their agencies within Europe.[4] For international news, the agencies pooled their resources, so that Havas, for example, covered the French Empire, South America and the Balkans and shared the news with the other national agencies. In France the typical contract with Havas provided a provincial newspaper with 1800 lines of telegraphed text daily, for an annual subscription rate of 10,000 francs. Other agencies provided features and fiction for their subscribers.[5]

In the 1830s, France had several specialized agencies. Agence Havas was founded in 1835 by a Parisian translator and advertising agent, Charles-Louis Havas, to supply news about France to foreign customers. In the 1840s, Havas gradually incorporated other French agencies into his agency. Agence Havas evolved into Agence France-Presse (AFP).[6] Two of his employees, Bernhard Wolff and Paul Julius Reuter, later set up rival news agencies, Wolffs Telegraphisches Bureau in 1849 in Berlin and Reuters in 1851 in London. Guglielmo Stefani founded the Agenzia Stefani, which became the most important press agency in Italy from the mid-19th century to World War II, in Turin in 1853.

The development of the telegraph in the 1850s led to the creation of strong national agencies in England, Germany, Austria and the United States. But despite the efforts of governments, through telegraph laws such as in 1878 in France, inspired by the British Telegraph Act of 1869 which paved the way for the nationalisation of telegraph companies and their operations, the cost of telegraphy remained high.

In the United States, the judgment in Inter Ocean Publishing v. Associated Press facilitated competition by requiring agencies to accept all newspapers wishing to join. As a result of the increasing newspapers, the Associated Press was now challenged by the creation of United Press Associations in 1907 and International News Service by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst in 1909.

Driven by the huge U.S. domestic market, boosted by the runaway success of radio, all three major agencies required the dismantling of the "cartel agencies" through the Agreement of 26 August 1927. They were concerned about the success of U.S. agencies from other European countries which sought to create national agencies after the First World War. Reuters had been weakened by war censorship, which promoted the creation of newspaper cooperatives in the Commonwealth and national agencies in Asia, two of its strong areas.

After the Second World War, the movement for the creation of national agencies accelerated, when accessing the independence of former colonies, the national agencies were operated by the state. Reuters, became cooperative, managed a breakthrough in finance, and helped to reduce the number of U.S. agencies from three to one, along with the internationalization of the Spanish EFE and the globalization of Agence France-Presse.

In 1924, Benito Mussolini placed Agenzia Stefani under the direction of Manlio Morgagni, who expanded the agency's reach significantly both within Italy and abroad. Agenzia Stefani was dissolved in 1945, and its technical structure and organization were transferred to the new Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA). Wolffs was taken over by the Nazi regime in 1934.[7] The German Press Agency (dpa) in Germany was founded as a co-operative in Goslar on 18 August 1949 and became a limited liability company in 1951. Fritz Sänger was the first editor-in-chief. He served as managing director until 1955 and as managing editor until 1959. The first transmission occurred at 6 a.m. on 1 September 1949.[8]

Since the 1960s, the major agencies were provided with new opportunities in television and magazine, and news agencies delivered specialized production of images and photos, the demand for which is constantly increasing. In France, for example, they account for over two-thirds of national market.[9]

By the 1980s, the four main news agencies, AFP, AP, UPI and Reuters, provided over 90% of foreign news printed by newspapers around the world.[10]

Commercial services[edit]

News agencies can be corporations that sell news (e.g., PA Media, Thomson Reuters, dpa and United Press International). Other agencies work cooperatively with large media companies, generating their news centrally and sharing local news stories the major news agencies may choose to pick up and redistribute (e.g., Associated Press (AP), Agence France-Presse (AFP) or the Indian news agency PTI).

Governments may also control news agencies: China (Xinhua), Russia (TASS), and several other countries have government-funded news agencies which also use information from other agencies as well.[11]

Commercial newswire services charge businesses to distribute their news (e.g., Business Wire, GlobeNewswire, PR Newswire, PR Web, and Cision).

The major news agencies generally prepare hard news stories and feature articles that can be used by other news organizations with little or no modification, and then sell them to other news organizations. They provide these articles in bulk electronically through wire services (originally they used telegraphy; today they frequently use the Internet). Corporations, individuals, analysts, and intelligence agencies may also subscribe.

News sources, collectively, described as alternative media provide reporting which emphasizes a self-defined "non-corporate view" as a contrast to the points of view expressed in corporate media and government-generated news releases. Internet-based alternative news agencies form one component of these sources.


There are several different associations of news agencies. EANA is the European Alliance of Press Agencies, while the OANA is an association of news agencies of the Asia-Pacific region. MINDS is a global network of leading news agencies collaborating in new media business.

List of major news agencies[edit]

Name Abbrev. Country
Adnkronos  Italy
Agence France-Presse AFP  France
Agência Brasil ABR  Brazil
Agencia EFE EFE  Spain
Agenția de Presă RADOR (National Radio) Rador  Romania
Agenția Română de Presă AGERPRES  Romania
Agenzia Giornalistica Italia AGI  Italy
Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata ANSA  Italy
AKIpress News Agency  Kyrgyzstan
Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau ANP  Netherlands
Algeria Press Service APS  Algeria
Anadolu Agency AA  Turkey
Andina  Peru
Antara  Indonesia
Armenpress  Armenia
Asian News International ANI  India
Associated Press AP  United States
Associated Press of Pakistan APP  Pakistan
Zeen News Network ZNN  Pakistan
Athens-Macedonian News Agency AMNA  Greece
Australian Associated Press AAP  Australia
Austria Presse Agentur APA  Austria
Azerbaijan State Telegraph Agency AzerTAc  Azerbaijan
Bahrain News Agency BNA  Bahrain
Bakhtar News Agency  Afghanistan
Baltic News Service BNS  Estonia
Bangladesh Sangbad Shangstha BSS  Bangladesh
Belga BELGA  Belgium
Beta News Agency  Serbia
Bloomberg News  United States
BNO News  Netherlands
Bulgarian Telegraph Agency BTA  Bulgaria
The Canadian Press CP  Canada
Caribbean Media Corporation CMC  Barbados
CCTV+  China
Central News Agency CNA  Taiwan
China News Service CNS  China
Croatian News Agency HINA  Croatia
Czech News Agency ČTK  Czech Republic
Demirören News Agency DHA  Turkey
Deutsche Presse-Agentur DPA  Germany
Dow Jones Newswires  United States
Emirates News Agency WAM  United Arab Emirates
European Pressphoto Agency EPA  Europe
Fars News Agency FNA  Iran
Islamic Consultative Assembly News Agency ICANA  Iran
İhlas News Agency IHA  Turkey
Islamic Republic News Agency IRNA  Iran
Iranian Students' News Agency ISNA  Iran
Indo-Asian News Service IANS  India
Interfax  Russia
Inter Press Service IPS  Italy
Jewish Telegraphic Agency JTA  United States
Jiji Press  Japan
Kenya News Agency KNA  Kenya
Korean Central News Agency KCNA  North Korea
Kyodo News  Japan
Lankapuvath  Sri Lanka
Lao News Agency KPL  Laos
Lusa News Agency LUSA  Portugal
Maghreb Arabe Presse MAP  Morocco
Magyar Távirati Iroda MTI  Hungary
Malaysian National News Agency BERNAMA  Malaysia
Namibia Press Agency NAMPA  Namibia
National Iraqi News Agency NINA  Iraq
New Zealand Press Association NZPA  New Zealand
News Agency of Nigeria NAN  Nigeria
Norsk Telegrambyrå NTB  Norway
Notimex  Mexico
Pacnews  New Zealand
Pakistan Press International PPI  Pakistan
PanARMENIAN.Net PAN  Armenia
Philippine News Agency PNA  Philippines
Polska Agencja Prasowa PAP  Poland
PA Media PA  United Kingdom
Pressclub Information Agency PIA  Bulgaria
Press Trust of India PTI  India
Qatar News Agency QNA  Qatar
Reuters  United Kingdom
Ritzaus Bureau Ritzau  Denmark
Rossiya Segodnya  Russia
Ruptly  Russia
Russian News Agency TASS TASS  Russia
Saba News Agency or Yemen News Agency SABA  Yemen
Saudi Press Agency SPA  Saudi Arabia
Schweizerische Depeschenagentur SDA  Switzerland
Slovenian Press Agency STA  Slovenia
Suomen Tietotoimisto STT  Finland
Syrian Arab News Agency SANA  Syria
Tahitipresse ATP  French Polynesia
Tanjug Tačno  Serbia
Telenoticiosa Americana TELAM  Argentina
Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå TT  Sweden
Turkmenistan State News Agency TDH  Turkmenistan
United News of India UNI  India
United News of Bangladesh UNB  Bangladesh
United Press International UPI  United States
World Entertainment News Network WENN  United Kingdom
Vietnam News Agency VNA  Vietnam
Via News Agency VIANEWS  Portugal
Xinhua News Agency XINHUA  China
Yonhap News Agency YONHAP  South Korea
ZUMA Press  United States

List of commercial newswire services[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rafeeq, Ali; Jiang, Shujun (2018-01-02). "From the Big Three to elite news sources: a shift in international news flow in three online newspapers,, and". The Journal of International Communication. 24 (1): 96–114. doi:10.1080/13216597.2018.1444663. ISSN 1321-6597. S2CID 169613987. Archived from the original on 2022-04-26. Retrieved 2022-04-26.
  2. ^ Jonathan Fenby, The International News Services (1986), p. 25.
  3. ^ Jonathan Fenby, The International News Services (1986).
  4. ^ "Ch 7 Telegraph" Archived 2013-08-01 at the Wayback Machine, Revolutions in Communication: Media history from Gutenberg to the digital age (2010). Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  5. ^ Theodore Zeldin, France: 1848–1945 (1977) 2: 538–539
  6. ^ Broderick, James F.; Darren W. Miller (2007). Consider the source: A Critical Guide to 100 Prominent News and Information Sites on the Web. Information Today, Inc. pp. 1. ISBN 978-0-910965-77-4.
  7. ^ "Baroness Reuter, last link to news dynasty, dies" Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine, Reuters, January 25, 2009. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  8. ^ "Facts and figures". Archived from the original on 2020-12-03. Retrieved 2020-12-18.
  9. ^ "« Statistiques d'entreprises des industries culturelles », par Valérie Deroin, Secrétariat général Délégation au développement et aux affaires internationales au sein du Département des études, de la prospective et des statistiques" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-04-27. Retrieved 2022-04-27.
  10. ^ "The Big Four". New Internationalist. 1981-06-01. Archived from the original on 2020-12-13. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  11. ^ Boyd-Barrett, Oliver, ed. (2010). News Agencies in the Turbulent Era of the Internet Archived 2010-09-22 at the Wayback Machine. Generalitat de Catalunya. ISBN 978-84-393-8303-1

Further reading[edit]

  • Fenby, Jonathan. The International News Services (1986) [ISBN missing]
  • Gramling, Oliver. AP: The Story of News (1940) [ISBN missing]
  • Kenny, Peter. "News agencies as content providers and purveyors of news: A mediahistoriographical study on the development and diversity of wire services" (MPhil Diss. University of Stellenbosch, 2009) online, with a detailed bibliography pp. 171–200
  • Morris, Joel Alex. The Deadline Every Minute: The Story of the United Press (1957) [ISBN missing]
  • Paterson, Chris A., and Annabelle Sreberny, eds. International news in the 21st Century (University of Luton Press, 2004) [ISBN missing]
  • Putnis, P. "Reuters in Australia: the supply and exchange of news, 1859–1877" Media History (2004). 10#2 pp: 67–88.
  • Read, D. The power of news: the history of Reuters (Oxford UP, 1992). [ISBN missing]
  • Schwarzlose, Richard Allen. The American wire services: a study of their development as a social institution (1979) [ISBN missing]
  • Stephens, M. A history of news (3rd ed. Oxford UP, 2007). [ISBN missing]
  • Sterling, C. H. "News agencies" in Encyclopedia of international media and communications (2003) 3: 235–246.
  • Storey, Graham. Reuter's Century (1951) [ISBN missing]
  • Xin, X. "A developing market in news: Xinhua News Agency and Chinese newspapers" Media, Culture & Society (2006) 28#1 pp: 45–66.

External links[edit]