APN News & Media Ltd chief executive Brendan Hopkins joined global media giant News Corp in saying publishers should charge for access to online articles generated by newspapers.
"We don't need to be reborn, we just need to be paid properly for what we do," Mr Hopkins told the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers' Association (PANPA) conference in Sydney last Thursday.
Mr Hopkins said charging for online content would not be controversial if publishers offered high quality, unique content.
Internet search engine providers, such as Google and Yahoo!, in particular should pay, he added.
"As an industry we must strive to protect our content from those who contribute nothing to its creation and are happy to run on its coat tails.
News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch has already announced plans to begin charging readers for access to the websites of the company's newspaper network.
Last month, publisher Fairfax Media Ltd announced it was considering charging for online news content.
Mr Hopkins singled out search engines for particular criticism, saying their business models had been key in promoting the notion that journalism content is "free".
"To use an analogy, I see search engines as breaking into our homes, itemising the contents, walking out and listing everything for everyone to see. And they get money out of that process," he told the conference.
"The only problem is, I don't see any revenue being paid directly from Google, Yahoo! or Microsoft in our company profit and loss accounts."
Industry group The Newspaper Works, which is chaired by Mr Hopkins, is seeking talks with search providers on the issue.
A recent agreement between YouTube and the music industry, which will see YouTube owner Google pay the Performing Rights Society for use of music videos, provides a blueprint for those talks, Mr Hopkins added.
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