History of News Agencies

The 1830s saw the beginning of news agencies with several specialized agencies starting in France. Their main purpose was to supply news about France to foreign clients. In the 1840s, several of these agencies combined in order to form the Agence France-Presse.

Two of the company's workers, Paul Julius Reuter and Bernard Wolff, later set up news agencies of their own. These included the Reuters News Agency in London and the Wolff Telegraphisches Bureau in Berlin. Gugliemo Stefani also established Agenzia Stefani that became the most important Italian press agency from the mid 19th century until World War II.

The invention of the telegraph in the 1850s led to the establishment of strong national press agencies in the U.S., Austria, England and Germany. In the U.S, the judgment in a court case involving the Associated Press and Inter Ocean Publishing required news agencies to accept all newspapers who wish to join in.

Because of the increasing number of newspapers, several U.S news agencies started to challenge the Associated Press. Driven by the huge American market that was boosted by radio's runaway success, all major news agencies agreed to dismantle cartel agencies through an agreement in 1927.

They were concerned about the success of American news agencies based in European countries that sought to create national news agencies after the First World War. Reuters was weakened by war censorship that promoted the establishment of cooperative newspapers across the Commonwealth.

In 1924, Agenzia Stefani was placed under the management of Manlio Morgagni who expanded its reach significantly both abroad and within Italy. The Nazi regime took over the Wolff news agency in 1934.

After World War II, the movement to establish national news agencies gained momentum. It also contributed to the reduction in the number of U.S agencies from three to one along with the globalization of AFP. Since the 1960s, news agencies were given new opportunities in magazine and television. 

They delivered specialized production of photos and images that newspapers and magazines had high demand for. In France, for example, they account for over three fourths of the national market.

Return to New Agencies.