Bild (or Bild-Zeitung, literally Picture; [ˈbɪlt]) is a German tabloid newspaper published by Axel Springer SE. The paper is published from Monday to Saturday; on Sundays, its sister paper Bild am Sonntag ("Bild on Sunday") is published instead, which has a different style and its own editors. Bild is tabloid in style but broadsheet in size. It is the best-selling European newspaper and has the sixteenth-largest circulation worldwide.[3] Bild has been described as "notorious for its mix of gossip, inflammatory language, and sensationalism" and as having a huge influence on German politicians.[4] Its nearest English-language stylistic and journalistic equivalent is often considered to be the British national newspaper The Sun, the second highest selling European tabloid newspaper, with which it shares a degree of rivalry.[5][6][7]

13 November 2019 front page of Bild
TypeDaily tabloid, except Sundays and public holidays
FormatBroadsheet ("nordisch" size: 376 x 528 mm)
Owner(s)Axel Springer SE
EditorJulian Reichelt
Political alignmentRight wing[1]
Circulation1,580,977 (Print, 2018)
390,498 (Digital, 2018)


Bild was founded by Axel Springer in 1952. It mostly consisted of pictures (hence the name Bild, German for picture). Bild soon became the best-selling tabloid, by a wide margin, not only in Germany, but in all of Europe, though essentially to German readers. Through most of its history, Bild was based in Hamburg. The paper moved its headquarters to Berlin in March 2008, stating that it was an essential base of operations for a national newspaper.[8] It is printed nationwide with 32 localized editions. Special editions are printed in some favoured German holiday destinations abroad such as Spain, Italy, Turkey and Greece.

Bild sold more than five million copies every day in the 1980s. In 1993 the paper had a circulation of slightly more than four million copies, making it the most read newspaper in the country.[9] In the period of 1995–96 its circulation was 4,300,000 copies.[10] In 2001 Bild was the most read newspaper in Europe and also, in Germany with a circulation of 4,396,000 copies.[11]

Although it is still Germany's biggest paper, the circulation of Bild, along with many other papers, has been on the decline in recent years. By the end of 2005, the figure dropped to 3.8 million copies.[12] Its 2010 circulation was 3,548,000, making the paper the fifth in the list of the world's biggest selling newspapers.[13]

Bild is published in tabloid format.[11] In the paper's beginnings, Springer was influenced by the model of the British tabloid Daily Mirror,[5] although Bild's paper size is larger, this is reflected in its mix of celebrity gossip, crime stories and political analysis. However, its articles are often considerably shorter compared to those in British tabloids, and the whole paper is thinner as well.

In June 2012, Bild celebrated its 60th anniversary by giving away free newspapers to almost all of Germany's 41 million households. Bild said Guinness World Records in Germany has certified the print run as "the largest circulation for the free special edition of a newspaper".[14] In 2018 on average 2,2 million copies of the paper were printed across Germany.[15]

In 2019 Bild started a weekly politic newspaper, named Bild Politik.

Editorial leanings

From the outset, the editorial drift was conservative and nationalist. The GDR was referred to as the Soviet Occupation Zone (German: Sowjetische Besatzungszone or SBZ). The usage continued well into the 1980s, when Bild began to use the GDR's official name cautiously, putting it in quotation marks. Bild (along with fellow Springer tabloid B.Z.) heavily influenced public opinion against the German student movement and left-wing terrorism in the years following 1966, and was blamed by some for the climate that contributed to the assassination attempt on activist Rudi Dutschke in 1968—a popular catchphrase in left-wing circles sympathetic to student radicalism was "Bild hat mitgeschossen!" ("Bild shot at him too!").[16]

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War in Europe, Bild's editorial stance seems to have become more centrist. Despite its general support for Germany's conservative parties and especially former chancellor Helmut Kohl, its rhetoric, still populist in tone, is less fierce than it was thirty years ago. Its traditionally less conservative Sunday paper Bild am Sonntag even supported Gerhard Schröder, a Social Democrat, in his bid for chancellor in 1998.

In 2004, Bild started to cooperate with fast-food giant McDonald's to sell the tabloid at its 1,000 fast food restaurants in Germany. The cooperation still goes on, often enough by advertising the restaurant chain in "news" articles. Young women in skimpy clothes appeared on Bild's page one below the fold as Seite-eins-Mädchen or "Page One Girls". On 9 March 2012 Bild announced the elimination of the "Page One Girls", instead moving its fleshy photos to its inside pages.[17]


Its motto, prominently displayed below the logo, is unabhängig, überparteilich ("independent, nonpartisan"). Another slogan used prominently in advertising is Bild dir deine Meinung!, which translates as "Form your own opinion!" (by reading Bild), a pun based on the fact that, in German, Bild is a homophone of the imperative form of the verb bilden (English: to form, to build, to educate) and the noun Bild (English: picture, image).[18][19]

Bild is printed in Ahrensburg, Hanover, Berlin, Leipzig, Essen, Neu-Isenburg, Esslingen, Munich, and Syke.

Foreign locations exist in Spain in Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, and Las Palmas. In Italy in Milan, in Greece in Athens and in Antalya, Turkey. The foreign locations cater mostly for German tourists and expatriates.


  • 1952: Rolf von Bargen
  • 1952–1958: Rudolf Michael
  • 1958–1960: Oskar Bezold
  • 1960–1962: Karl-Heinz Hagen
  • 1961–1971: Peter Boenisch
  • 1971–1980: Günter Prinz
  • 1981–1988: Horst Fust
  • 1988–1989: Werner Rudi
  • 1989–1990: Peter Bartels
  • 1990–1992: Hans-Hermann Tiedje
  • 1992–1997: Claus Larass
  • 1998–2000: Udo Röbel
  • 2001–2015: Kai Diekmann
  • 2016–2018: Tanit Koch [20][21]
  • 2018–present: Julian Reichelt


Der Spiegel wrote in 2006 that Bild "flies just under the nonsense threshold of American and British tabloids ... For the German desperate, it is a daily dose of high-resolution soft porn".[22] According to The Guardian, for 28 years from 1984 to 2012, Bild had topless women featuring on its first page; the paper published more than 5,000 topless pictures.[23]

It is argued Bild's thirst for sensationalism results in the terrorizing of prominent celebrities and stories are frequently based on the most dubious evidence. The journalistic standards of Bild are the subject of frequent criticism.

  • BILDblog is a popular German blog that when founded was dedicated solely to documenting errors and fabrications in Bild articles. In 2005 BILDblog received the Grimme Online Award for its work. Since 2009 BILDblog has also reported on errors and fabrications in other newspapers from Germany and elsewhere.
  • Heinrich Böll's 1974 novel The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, and the 1975 movie based on it, used a fictional stand-in for Bild to make a point about its allegedly unethical journalistic practices. Böll's essay in the edition of 10 January 1972 of Der Spiegel (titled "Will Ulrike Gnade oder freies Geleit?)[24] was sharply critical of Bild's sensationalist coverage of the Baader-Meinhof Gang. In the essay, Böll stated that what Bild does "isn’t cryptofascist anymore, not fascistoid, but naked fascism. Agitation, lies, dirt."[24]
  • In 1977 investigative journalist Günter Wallraff worked for four months as an editor for the Bild tabloid in Hanover, giving himself the pseudonym of "Hans Esser". In his books Der Aufmacher ("Lead Story") and Zeugen der Anklage ("Witnesses for the Prosecution") he portrays his experiences on the editorial staff of the paper and the journalism which he encountered there. The staff commonly displayed contempt for humanity, a lack of respect for the privacy of ordinary people and widespread conduct of unethical research and editing techniques. Wallraff's investigations were also the basis for the 1990 film The Man Inside.
  • In 2004 Bild was publicly reprimanded twelve times by the Deutscher Presserat (German Press Council).[5] This amounts for a third of the reprimands this self-regulation council of the German press declared that year. As of 2012, it receives more reprimands from this watchdog body than any other newspaper.[4]
  • In their 2007 song Lasse redn (topped at no. 6 of the German charts), punk rock band Die Ärzte summarized Bild's content as "fear, hate, tits and the weather report" (Aus Angst, Hass, Titten und dem Wetterbericht).[25]
  • Spiegel magazine often accuses Bild of pushing Germany further right and questions Bild's moral standards and journalistic quality.[26]
  • Judith Holofernes, lead singer of German band Wir sind Helden, wrote a scathing open letter to Bild's advertising agency after they asked her to star in their latest campaign. "Bild is not a harmless guilty pleasure", she wrote, but a "dangerous political instrument—not only a high-magnification telescope into the abyss but an evil creature".[26]
  • In 2014 Sophia Becker and Kristina Lunz launched a campaign, Stop Bild Sexism, to end the use of sexualized images of women in Bild. The campaign was inspired by the No More Page 3 campaign to get The Sun in the UK to stop publishing images of half-naked women on page 3.[27][28][29] Lunz argues that Bild's frequent use of images of unclothed women makes its reporting of sexual assault and harassment "sexist and voyeuristic."[30] Becker says that Bild contributes to the normalisation of sexism in German society.[31] The petition had over 35,000 signatures in January 2015,[27] and Springer, the newspaper's publisher, responded by issuing a statement of values. These include the importance of mutual respect and maintaining respectful interactions.[32] Bild stopped publishing "topless productions of our own with women" in March 2018, three years after The Sun, while continuing to publish photos of provocatively-posed models dressed in underwear alone.[33]


The Berlin offices have a 19-storey paternoster lift, whose continued operation was vigorously defended editorially by the newspaper.[34][35]

See also


  1. "How Germany's Right-Wing Tabloid Learned to Love Refugees". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  2. Noack, Rick (31 August 2015). "In Germany, tabloids welcome refugees. In Britain, they propose sending the army to keep them out". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 15 September 2015. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  3. Milosevic, Mira (2016). "World Press Trends 2016" (PDF). WAN-IFRA. p. 58. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  4. Steininger, Michael (18 January 2012). "German tabloid Bild takes down politicians with its unmatched megaphone". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
  5. Sex, Smut and Shock: Bild Zeitung Rules Germany Spiegel Online 25 April 2006
  6. Gray, Sadie. "Germans equalise with penalty gibe in a shootout over sun loungers and clichés". The Times.
  7. "Sport". The Daily Telegraph.
  8. "Die "Bild"-Zeitung ist jetzt ein Berliner" (in German). Die Welt. 17 March 2008. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  9. Peter Humphreys (1996). Mass Media and Media Policy in Western Europe. Manchester University Press. p. 82. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  10. Media Policy: Convergence, Concentration & Commerce. SAGE Publications. 24 September 1998. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-4462-6524-6. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
  11. Adam Smith (15 November 2002). "Europe's Top Papers". campaign. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  12. "Startseite | Informationsgemeinschaft zur Feststellung der Verbreitung von Werbeträgern e.V."
  13. "The world's biggest selling newspapers". pressrun. 19 October 2010. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  14. "Germany's Bild newspaper becomes 60 and celebrates with 41m circulation". 24 June 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  15. "Titelanzeige | Informationsgemeinschaft zur Feststellung der Verbreitung von Werbeträgern e.V." Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  17. Ta Ta!: German Tabloid Strips Front Page of Daily Nude, Spiegel Online, 3 September 2012
  18. "BILD". BrandZ. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  19. ""Bild - unabhängig · überparteilich"? Die Wahlberichterstattung der erfolgreichsten Boulevardzeitung Deutschlands". ResearchGate. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  20. ""Bild"-Chefredaktion: Tanit Koch folgt auf Kai Diekmann". Spiegel Online. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  21. "Top German tabloid 'Bild' gets first female editor-in-chief". Deutsche Welle. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  22. "Sex, Smut and Shock Bild Zeitung Rules Germany". Der Spiegel. 25 April 2006. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  23. Greenslade, Roy (9 March 2012). "Bild banishes its topless model pictures after 28 years". The Guardian.
  24. Böll, Heinrich (10 January 1972). "Will Ulrike Gnade oder freies Geleit? Schriftsteller Heinrich Böll über die Baader-Meinhof-Gruppe und "Bild"" (in German). Der Spiegel. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  25. "Europe's Largest Newspaper Publisher: 'A Bankrupt Media Company Is Better Than a Government Funded One'". Spiegel Online. 5 March 2009.
  26. Pidd, Helen (28 February 2011). "Spiegel magazine accuses rival Bild of pushing Germany further right". The Guardian.
  27. Barfield, Tom (22 January 2015). "Meet the women fighting German tabloid sexism". The Local (German edition). Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  28. Greenslade, Roy (23 January 2015). "No More Page 3 inspires campaign against topless pictures in Germany". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  29. Hildebrand, Kathleen (30 January 2015). "Kritik an Bild-Zeitung: Girls und Sexismus". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). ISSN 0174-4917. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  30. Lunz, Kristina (6 June 2015). "Der tägliche Herrenwitz. Mit Macht kommt Verantwortung – die "Bild"-Zeitung nutzt ihren medialen Einfluss trotzdem viel zu oft für sexistische Berichterstattung". The European. Das Debatten-Magazin. Debatten: Sexismus im Deutschland. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  31. "Sexism in The Media & Its Violent Implications". Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  32. "Petition gegen Sexismus in der BILD". andersundgleich. 16 January 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  33. Young-Powell, Abby (12 March 2018). "German tabloid Bild hails 'end of an era' as it drops topless models". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  34. Benoit, Bertrand (25 June 2015). "Is It Time for Germany's Doorless Elevators to Move On?". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  35. Dullroy, Joel (23 January 2017). "Going Up: Berlin's surviving Paternoster elevators". Blogfabrik.
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