The competition watchdog is drafting new regulations that would force online giants to pay media organisations for their content.
The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance wants urgent and wide-ranging reforms.
Union president Marcus Strom said newsrooms across the country were struggling from depleted advertising revenues, with some outlets shutting and others scaling back operations.
“It means that communities have lost their local voice and there is less scrutiny of powerful interests,” he said.
The union also wants Google and Facebook to share audience analytics with media companies.
Freelance journalists and bloggers would also be compensated for their work.
An independent broker would dictate payments under the MEAA’s preferred model.
The union wants a proportion of the funds raised from the new code diverted to help struggling regional newsrooms.
A recent PwC report valued print advertising at $1.14 billion in 2019, down from $2.25 billion in 2014.
Long the biggest money-maker for media companies, print ads are estimated to be worth only $450 million by 2023.
Meanwhile, Facebook and Google reign over the $9 billion digital advertising market in Australia.
For every $100 spent by advertisers online, $47 goes to Google, $24 to Facebook and the rest goes to other participants.
News Corp Australia has suggested its content is worth $1 billion, while Nine has estimated its content as worth $600 million.
The MEAA said news content should be covered under a common framework rather than individual media companies setting costs.
Google has previously defended its domination of the market, saying it was merely acting like a newsagent displaying a poster in the window by listing news content in its search results.
The Government had originally given the tech giants until later this year to negotiate a new framework with the ACCC, but then reneged and told the competition watchdog to finalise the code by July.