Merkel studied at Justus Liebig University Giessen. After working for the "Deutscher Sportbund (DSB) in Hesse" (German Sports Federation) he became head of dpa's picture services Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa), a well-known news agency. Merkel was involved in developing "global media services" und "news aktuell". Since 2002 he was CEO of "dpa Picture Alliance", a platform of the six large stock photographies akg-images, Bildagentur Huber, dpa-Bilderdienste, kpa photo archive, OKAPIA, and Picture Press. Merkel was initiator of the dpa international facsimile broadcasting.
Merkel, who was married and lived in Friedrichsdorf near Frankfurt, was a well known photographer and picture artist. His work was widely exhibited. He died unexpectedly during a skiing trip in the French Alps.
- Sportwissenschaft in Hessen, 1986, together with Rainer Ballreich
- Teens und Twens zwischen 1950 und 2000, Hatje Cantz 2002, ISBN 978-3-7757-9072-7, Publ. by Historisches Museum der Pfalz Speyer together with Wolfgang Leitmeyer, Tanja Münster with words from Julia Dahms, Markus Elsner, Hans Peter Hill, Reiner Merkel et al.
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