There's a discussion on a few blogs this morning about the importance of the homepage to online news publishers. Scott Karp on Publishing 2.0 gets into the reverse-chron vs. most-important debate, and the importance of homepage updates, but I think the focus is misplaced. It's not 1998 anymore -- nowadays, most savvy news publishers know that every page is the home page, because the majority of traffic is coming through at the article level -- driven by Google News, organic Google search, references from other sites and blogs, and RSS. I think most mainstream news publishers have realized this -- besides a clear site navigation at the top of every page, one of the most important article-level tools appearing on most articles is the "most read" and "most emailed" list.
Of course, that's not to downplay the importance of homepage design and regular updates. A lot of traffic does originate at the homepage, and some people prefer to browse news that way. But if I had $10,000 to spend on a site redesign, I would make sure that resources were first allocated to the article template and site tools, as opposed to tweaking the front page.