When we close threads, we close threads for a reason... the discussion is over about it. Ultimately, it's the moderator's judgment call on whether or not to close it. Don't reopen discussion on it, especially if you want the thread reopened.
Right now, the system we have is the system we have. We can't merge threads and news stories, but we close the existing one and redirect them to the news story. Until something better comes along (which we have been working on for quite a while now), people are just going to have to live with it. If you can't wait, then tough.
End of discussion... seriously.