Google is now a major - arguably the major - force driving news sites. As a result, sites' PageRank is utterly crucial for any business model. Right now, Google seems to be slashing the PageRank of a lot of blogs, and some news sites seem to have been caught up in the carnage, most notably that of the Washington Post, which has dropped to a PageRank of just 5 from a PageRank of 7 literally overnight.
A PageRank of 5 is atrocious, and essentially means that Washington Post news stories will not show up in any Google searches - certainly not on the first page, anyway, which is the only page that matters. PageRank is a little-understood and precious thing, and it can vary enormously even across the relatively small universe of authoritative news sites.