Despite these developments, some of which are worrying, positive trends have also become noticeable. The current issue of the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, for example, shows that trust in the classic media has continued to rise in Germany, with 68% of Germans trusting newspapers, radio and TV. In 2017, the figure was only 61%.
The gap in trust when it comes to social media has continued to grow in this context. Only 32% of Germans still trust Facebook and other platforms (previous year: 40%).
These figures are both an incentive and a challenge for Germany's leading news agency dpa to continue with its commitment to truthful and independent reporting and to fulfil its role as a provider of trustworthy reports, images, graphics and videos in Germany and around the world.
2. Business performance
For dpa, 2018 was marked by an economically stable situation and groundbreaking innovation projects. The news agency's Connect strategy continues to be the focus of its future-oriented activities. dpa understands this as the transformation of the company from a classic news agency to a platform for the exchange of networked products and services. The dpa-ID was developed in 2018 and made available to customers as one of the basics of the platform concept. The dpa-ID is a comprehensive digital identity for all users of dpa services that intuitively links the agency's various services.
Within the scope of the Connect strategy, the contents of the Catholic News Agency (KNA) are now also offered via the dpa platform, which can be seen as a successful example of further cooperation and models in this area.
Overall, in 2018 the dpa group succeeded in further expanding its business base. In the course of the year, the German Press Agency acquired Swiss firm Keystone-SDA’s 50 percent share in news aktuell (Schweiz) AG, so that the dpa group now holds 100% of this company (70% dpa GmbH, 30% news aktuell GmbH). With this strategic investment, dpa intends to be able to sustainably implement the great success of news aktuell, the provider of PR services, in Switzerland as well.
In addition, dpa took a seed investment in the Contiago content syndication platform, initially acquiring 14% of the company. Contiago licenses content to small and medium-sized companies via cooperations with trade associations and publishers, enabling them to enhance their own websites with up-to-date information.
The cooperation with the company Pixray represents a further expansion of the strategic possibilities. Together with mecom GmbH, a member of the dpa group, Pixray works successfully on identifying rights violations and supporting the resulting claims of picture agencies, publishers and editorial offices.
In 2018 dpa identified video as one of the most important strategic areas. With the implementation of a product manager and the creation of a visual desk in the Berlin newsroom, where the editorial resources from photo editing and moving image were bundled, dpa continued to work intensively on its profile. With the help of regular further education and training, dpa has further improved the video competence of its editorial staff in order to meet its customers’ high content and technical requirements and thus ensure further growth.
The difficult economic situation in Latin America has necessitated a fundamental restructuring of dpa's Spanish-language offering, which has led to painful cuts in staffing levels in Buenos Aires and Madrid. dpa has decided to focus more on visual material in order to meet the many customer needs. In the meantime, a new overall package for the Spanish-speaking market has been set up as part of a partnership with the privately organized and independent Spanish news agency Europa Press.
In addition, dpa invested heavily in young journalists in 2018: the dpa traineeship was completely reorganized to provide more multimedia and different roles in the editorial processes that reflect the requirements of a modern media company: the multimedia reporter, the director, the newsroom developer and the product manager. The dpa trainees all undergo the same basic training in journalism during their first year of training, before specializing intensively in one of the above roles in their second year.
In order to improve this process and make dpa even more attractive as an employer and training company, the position of recruitment officer was created and filled last year.
A further future topic is Performing Content. dpa continues to work intensively with customers to find out more about the consumer behavior of end users in relation to editorial offers on the Internet. The news agency has therefore created a new position here as well: project management for Performing Content. In constant dialogue with its customers, dpa supports them in further optimizing the utilizable value of their content.
Innovative strength and adaptability are decisive success factors for a company. In various formats, such as management conferences, developer bar camps, design sprints and welcome days, the agency has involved employees in the continuing development of dpa into a future-oriented and modern company. The agency's pioneering role with regard to innovation, change processes and future strategies also became clear to the outside world in many ways. These have included the annual editors-in-chief conference, the dpa innovation blog and events such as the media innovation conference Scoopcamp, which took place for the 10th time in 2018.
At 93.0 million euros (previous year: 93.6 million euros), dpa’s turnover has remained virtually constant. The decline of 0.6 million euros or -0.6 % was moderate overall in view of the aforementioned decline in the circulation of newspapers.
In addition to the foreseeable decline in revenues for the dpa-Basic service and the regional services due to the continued decline in circulation figures, foreign-language services were also unable to match the sales level of the previous year. Unfortunately, a sales offensive in the Spanish service did not have a significant effect, and the Arabic and English services saw a further decline in revenues due to the ongoing crisis in the entire Middle East region. Unfortunately, there are no signs of a turnaround here.