There was an provocative story in the New York Times the other day. Its proposal — a new Internet.

Wrote John Markoff: “There is a growing belief among engineers and security experts that Internet security and privacy have become so maddeningly elusive that the only way to fix the problem is to start over. What a new Internet might look like is still widely debated, but one alternative would, in effect, create a ‘gated community’ where users would give up their anonymity and certain freedoms in return for safety.”

Would those gates be toll gates? I bet the mainstream media would jump for joy if the plug were pulled on our slapdash beta Internet. I can hear them now: “While we’re building security into the new model, for God’s sake let’s build in some way that lets us publish online and make a profit.”

It’s not that I want the Internet to become a wholly owned subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, but I’d sure like to see the papers get their groove back. The destitute Sun-Times has had a terrific week, breaking the story of the Roland Burris affidavit and staying on top as the story developed. But in an earlier era, journalistic self-congratulation didn’t sound so much like pleading a right to exist. 

“Burris scoops show how much newspapers matter” — that was the headline over Tuesday’s Sun-Times editorial.

And said a Thursday headline that quoted house minority leader Tom Cross: “‘Thank God for the Sun-Times.'”