Ifra and the World Association of Newspapers have announced a “necessary merger” to form WAN-IFRA, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers from next month.
In a joint statement, Ifra’s Reiner Mittelbach and WAN’s Timothy Balding say the new combined organisation will represent more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3000 companies in more than 120 countries. “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,” according to the merged organisation’s mission statement. (Check it and other details at a new website, at www.wan-ifra.org.
The merger, which becomes effective on July 1, has been approved by the boards and the annual meetings of the two organisations. Headquarters in Paris, France, and Darmstadt, Germany, will be maintained, and Gavin O’Reilly, president of WAN and group chief executive of Dublin-based Independent News and Media, will serve as president of the new organisation through 2010.
“Both Ifra and WAN are strong organisations providing key services to our industry,” he says. “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”.
Horst Pirker, president of Ifra and chief executive of Austria’s Styria Medien will be first vice president, and succeed O’Reilly as president in 2011.
"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”, he says.
The new organisation will appoint a chief executive officer shortly, but in the meantime current CEOs of WAN and Ifra, Timothy Balding and Reiner Mittelbach, will jointly manage the merged association.
WAN, founded in 1948, groups 78 national newspaper associations, individual newspaper executives and companies in more than 120 countries, 13 news agencies and nine regional press organisations. It is based in Paris, France.
Ifra, founded in 1961, groups more than 3,000 publishing companies and suppliers to the publishing industry from more than 70 countries. It is based in Darmstadt, Germany, with regional offices in the United States, Asia and Europe.
The two organisations have a long common history: WAN was instrumental in the creation of Ifra, which emerged in 1961 under the name of INCA (International Newspaper Colour Association), an organisation to aid newspapers in their widening use of colour printing in newspaper production.
In 1971, Ifra was established as a separate entity to treat the rapidly developing technical side of the industry. The acronym stands for INCA-FIEJ Research Association – FIEJ, the French acronym for the International Federation of Newspaper Publishers, is the organisation now known as WAN.