Google, which did not reply to a request for comment, keeps much of its data about search and revenues in a black box alongside its algorithm.
The News Media Alliance based its new report partly on a study done by the economics consulting firm Keystone Strategy. Keystone Strategy relies on a statistic that was made public in 2008, when a Google executive estimated that Google News brought in $100 million. The study also noted how much company revenues have grown since then, among other factors.
News is a significant part of Google’s business, according to the study. Some 40 percent of the clicks on the platform’s trending queries are for news. That’s content that Google does not pay for, the report said, although it often presents headlines from news outlets verbatim.
Mr. Egger, of the Philadelphia Media Network, said the big tech companies should show some appreciation for the content that news publishers provide.
“There’s the potential for a beautiful codependence,” he said. “If you look at the reason they have such high engagement on their platforms, increasingly news is the No. 1 driver. Given that, they wouldn’t want to see news go away. And yet the unintended consequence is we need to share the revenue or get paid for the content that we produce.”
Two giant companies — Alphabet, which is Google’s parent, and Facebook — are major distributors for news publishers. The two of them ferry more than 80 percent of external traffic to various sites. That is a far cry from the analog days, when media barons controlled how their publications reached the public and collected all the ad income they generated.
But Google and Facebook don’t steer news consumers to news sites out of altruism. Rather, their middleman role allows them to take a huge proportion of online ad revenue. As a result, legacy news outlets have lost a crucial source of income over the last couple decades, which has led them in most cases to shrink or disappear.
The big tech companies “like this business,” Mr. Chavern said. “It’s a good business, where you write for them.”