Global round-up: German giants set to merge

Global round-up: German giants set to mergeTwo of Germany's biggest media organisations are reportedly in early merger talks

An effort to stave off threats from Google and Facebook may be behind merger talks said to be happening between two of Germany’s biggest media companies.

The Financial Times reported that Axel Springer and ProSiebenSat.1 are in early discussions about joining forces.

A merger would be a possible response to pressure from US digital media companies, the newspaper reported.

Axel Springer is Germany’s largest news publisher and ProSiebenSat.1 is the company’s biggest commercial broadcaster. Axel Springer owns titles including Die Welt and Bild, which is Europe’s highest-selling tabloid newspaper.

A merger would be against the trend of spinning off news businesses from entertainment and television businesses, exemplified by the de-merger of News Corporation and 21st Century Fox and the split of Gannett’s newspaper and entertainment arms.

Axel Springer had attempted a takeover of ProSiebenSat.1 in 2005, the Financial Times said, but the deal was blocked by the country’s competition regulator. ProSiebenSat.1 is now the larger company of the pair.

Last journalist on hacking charges acquitted

Neil Wallis, the former deputy editor of News Corp’s News of the World and the last journalist to face phone hacking charges, has been acquitted in London.

The decision by a jury comes almost 10 years since Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator who was closely involved with the phone hacking, and reporter Clive Goodman were jailed.

The News of the World was closed in 2011 by News Corp chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch following allegations of criminal behaviour by reporters and editors.

Editor Andy Coulson was the only journalist to be convicted of hacking by a jury following the News of the World investigation.

“Four years after I was arrested, I finally walk out of here a free man,” Mr Wallis said outside court, according to Bloomberg.

Times experiments with WhatsApp

An experiment to cover the Pope’s visit to South America using messaging service WhatsApp was launched last week by The New York Times.

The app works similarly to an SMS service and is attached to a particular phone number. Users can sign up to receive messages from the Times by sending a message to that number and can unsubscribe the same way.

“Pope Francis has arrived in Ecuador for the start of his Latin America trip,” the first report read. “Our Vatican correspondent, Jim Yardley, says they are heading into Quito now.”

Yardley then describes the scene as groups of people wait along the route: “I assume crowds will be big in town,” he said.

Although WhatsApp is not designed for news publishing, Niemen Journalism Lab reports that the audience of around 800 million users has made it attractive to publishers.

The BBC has used WhatsApp to provide information to the public in areas hit by Ebola.

Dallas Morning News offers redundancies

Dozens of newsroom employees will be made redundant by the Dallas Morning News as the paper pushes out older staff and focuses more on digital content.

The program will be offered to 167 newsroom employees “whose age and years of service total at least 60 years” with the first 30 of those requests granted.

“In the weeks and months after this buyout, we will add positions back to the newsroom, with a focus on hiring outstanding digital journalists,” the paper’s editor Mike Wilson said in a note published by D Magazine.

“We know the audience for newspapers is shrinking and the digital audience is growing, especially on mobile. Other media organisations are launching new technologies and telling stories in new ways in an effort to take some of that digital audience away from us.”

Mr Wilson said that while the change is not easy, it is a necessary one. “We have to move quickly to bring in the skills and the thinking that will make us indispensable to the emerging audience.”

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