Few ever talk over the matter, but there are a number of sources when you get down to news creation in Germany. So, this is my list of the top twenty-one (in my humble opinion):
1. BILD. Ok, some will laugh but lets face it....for the working-class guy, the first three pages of BILD have all the real news, promi news, entertainment news, etc....that you really need, and easily read in ten minutes. Plus it's got soccer scores, and the 'gossip' of Germany. Agenda-wise, BILD typically avoids it, but they parcel a news item down to three or four key elements. Intellectuals hate BILD, but I would take a guess that fifty-percent of the German public will read some part of BILD daily. Also, with the Sonntag (Sunday) BILD....they have a fairly deep review of news items and dump tons of information that you missed throughout the week.
2. Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ). Key newspaper of Bavaria. Generally delivers the news with a Bavarian view. Political folks from that region will quote from the SZ.
3. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). Generally, the most read newspaper in the state of Hessen. Will include a healthy amount of international news, and business topics. Carries a lot of information on the Rhine Valley region.
4. ARD. Channel One (German public TV). Based out of Hamburg. They will have four to five news periods each day. The most watched version is the 8PM fifteen minute period. They do a decent job of encapsulating the news to fit into fifteen minutes. They also will attempt at times to front some agenda item, and will oversell the news with intellectuals or politicians as part of the 'gimmick'.
5. ZDF. Channel Two (German public TV). Based out of Mainz. Their big news period is 9:45PM and typically runs twenty to thirty minutes. Compared to the 8PM ARD news period....I'd take a guess that they get roughly half the number of viewers (competition from commercial TV with sports, movies, shows has an effect). They also have the issue of fronting agenda items and bringing in intellectuals or politicians as part of the 'gimmick'.
6. Die Welt. It originally was developed by the British military in 1946 for Germans in the northern region, as the war ended. It would be best described as a combination conservative-liberal-like newspaper, with a metropolitan-style view of the world. Circulation? Roughly 180,000. It's typically the newspaper that airlines will hand out as you board a German flight.
7. N-TV. Started as a German CNN-like commercial news network in the early 1990s. A fair amount of their coverage in the late afternoon is business or investment related. If some developing or hot-topic episode was unfolding.....N-TV would be covering it live and with analysis....probably better than the public TV options.
8. Frankfurter Rundschau. It's a similar story to the Die Welt....coming up in 1946 in the American sector (Frankfurt region). For a number of years, it was highly quoted. Fewer readers over the past two decades have pushed it to be under-valued, go through financial problems, and end up being property of FAZ (their competition). It's still printed but only Monday through Saturday. If you figured their leanings....it's mostly left-liberal.
9. Der Tagesspiegel. Another newspaper that started up after WW II....around the end of 1945. It's based out of Berlin, but carries news from across Germany and the world. Mostly neutral theme.
10. Die Zeit. Another newspaper that came from the WW II period, after the war. Slanted left-of-center. Based out of north Germany. Highly read (at least 500,000 readers).
11. Handelsblatt. It's the Wall Street Journal of Germany. They publish five times a week, and deliver a lot of news on the business front, and a marginal amount on politics or general world topics. If you wanted a view of stocks and trends in the German market, this is the only news source that I'd recommend.
12. Focus. Weekly magazine that started in 1993. If you went through their leanings....I'd say it's right-of-center and mostly giving you the absolute facts.
13. Bunte. Weekly magazine that started in the late 1940s, and is read by at least half-a-million Germans. Purely entertainment news.....glossy pictures.....gossip. If you go to a German dentist, it's typically in the waiting area for you to glance over.
14. N24. Started in 2000 as a CNN-like news organisation. They package for themselves, but also provide feed to the German commercial networks for their nightly news coverage. Simply fact-driven....rarely doing agenda-based reporting. If there is a fast-pace event unfolding within Germany.....they cover it live.
15. Berliner Morganpost. It's been around since 1898, and a Berlin-theme newspaper. Highly read in the city....lesser read around Germany (probably around 300,000 to 400,000 readers daily). No real leanings....mostly pure journalism.
16. Stern. Weekly news magazine. It's been around since 1948, and would be considered one of the three most-read or cited news magazines in Germany. Their hype is picking one key topic each week, and doing an amazing amount of research and discussion on that one single topic (it's the feature on each cover). They can be left-of-center, and drive agenda topics for the public tv chat-forums. At least 750,000 copies per week are sold.
17. Cicero. It's been around for roughly 13 years....a monthly news topic magazine. Probably in the range of 75,000 to 85,000 copies sold. Most would describe it as a right-of-center magazine that focuses upon the German culture and politics.
18. Krautreporter. Five years ago....it didn't exist. Today, it's been developed with crowd-funding, and only news to be seen over the internet. They run the operation with no commercials or advertising (at least they say that). The topics? If you chose the top twenty topics of today....Krautreporter would take the generally opposite position as most major news sources. A lot of essay material, and possibly slanted material. Readers? Well....no one can say for sure. My observation would be that it's mostly the under-25-years old crowd, and it's not going to be an intellectual crowd who reads the news source.
19. Zuerst!. They started out in 2010, as a right-wing type newspaper. Some folks will claim they are extreme far-right on reporting.....some will claim they are right-of-center on reporting. A handful of intellectual will claim Zuerst! has a fair amount of fake news. My humble opinion, unless funding comes from an outside source, it's hard to imagine this news magazine still existing in ten years.
20. Neue Post. I hate putting this group into the top twenty, but it is widely read (figure at least 750,000 on circulation). It's designed to be read (weekly publication) by older women (over the age of fifty mostly). They hype mostly health, gossip, and on rare occasions some political topic that older women would ask questions over.
21. WDR/SWR/HR/BR/SR/MDR/RBB/NDR/Radio Bremen: These are the regional TV networks under public network ARD, and mostly cover their affected regions. If you were looking for cultural information, lifestyle info, economic news....then I would recommend them. If you went and brought up these with the typical working-class German under the age of thirty....most will say they never watch them.
If you notice, I didn't hype any Huff-Post type internet sites....mostly because they aren't gaining much attention to the typical German. Maybe in the under-25-age group....there is some trending, but the bulk of Germans aren't hyped up on political news or agendas. I also didn't lay out any talk-radio type situations....mostly because they don't exist. AM radio in Germany is basically dying off. For the FM crowd, it's mostly 90-percent music and 10-percent news.