You raise a good point, dfud. Associated Press is a co-op of news gathering organizations. It would be a natural extension of their charter for them to serve as a clearinghouse for what goes on the web and how it goes--including how the original owners of the journalism were paid for their work.
AP failed to take a leadership role as the web was first evolving. One reason: The amount of greed and envy among the board members of AP would be difficult to underestimate. (Unlike everyone else during the dot-com boom who was reasonable and level-headed.)
Several attempts at creating web advertising networks of local news websites have been tried--RealCities being the most well-known non-starter.
This spring the National Newspaper Network aligned itself with an outfit called Centro. Also, Inform.com is attempting to get newspapers to link into the web more aggressively with their new suite of publisher services and also offer a Google News alternative. Others have tried before. No one has had the success like Google, however, in bringing publishers together as they did with AdSense.
Like a lot of people, I worry about G's growing influence. But, nothing else has worked, so I, for one, am urging AP to get aggressive. AP's CEO sees the writing on the wall. With a little cooperation from G and his board, he just might get journalists paid, thus saving democracy and enhancing the culture.
Or, we can just get all of our information via Wikipedia.