IFRA, the worldwide news research and services organisation, has officially confirmed its merger with the World Association of Newspapers, Journalism.co.uk learned today.

The news follows last week's revelation by WAN president Gavin O'Reilly in an interview with Huffington Post that his Paris-based association had approved a merger with Germany-based IFRA, the other main world news publishing organisation.

An executive at IFRA told Journalism.co.uk: "This is a great opportunity for WAN and IFRA and for the industry. These two great organisations already have been offering excellent services to the industry. By combining forces it will be even better, I believe."

The new site for the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers can be viewed here: http://www.wan-ifra.org/.

In January, it was announced that the economic crisis had forced the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and the World Editors Forum (WEF) to postpone their annual conference to late November 2009.

Update: WAN has issued a release confirming that a 'single and worldwide' News Publishing Organisation has been formed, effective from July 1 with current WAN president, Gavin O'Reilly, as its president for 2010.

Horst Pirker, President of IFRA and CEO of Styria Medien AG in Austria, has been named first vice president, and will become president in 2011. A CEO is to be appointed shortly.

"The combined new organisation will represent more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3000 companies in more than 120 countries," it was announced. The new organisation will continue to be based in the two current headquarters in Paris, France, and Darmstadt, Germany.

WAN-IFRA is dedicated "to be the indispensable partner of newspapers and the entire news publishing industry worldwide, particularly our members, in the defense and promotion of press freedom, quality journalism and editorial integrity, and the development of prosperous businesses and technology."

"Both IFRA and WAN are strong organisations providing key services to our industry," said Gavin O'Reilly, who is also Group CEO of Dublin-based Independent News and Media.

"We believe that combining their strengths will allow us to be even more resourceful and effective in responding to the growing needs of our members and industry partners in the fast-moving and evolving media matrix. This is a necessary merger which, indeed, has been on the cards for some time."

"Like the whole news publishing industry, WAN and IFRA are currently facing serious challenges. I think we need to concentrate our resources to support our members in the best possible way," Horst Pirker said.

Before the new CEO is appointed the current CEOs of WAN and IFRA, Timothy Balding and Reiner Mittelbach, will 'jointly manage' the new association, it was further stated.

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