You could try out Mambo, XOOPS, PHPNuke/PostNuke or some similar CMS. I also need to find one for a new article site I am going to work on. I have used all 3 systems in the past, and switched between them a few times. Take a look at the list of features and go from there. As far as the layout is concerned, with Mambo, you can choose if you want a two column layout, or a leading story, then the rest of the articles will be below it. There are always hacks you can download and try out. It also has an article rating system, and a forum addon.
Cutenews (www.cutephp.com) if you want something quick and easy to use (PHP Only).
For the lil bit more advance/features try WordPress (www.wordpress.org - PHP&MySQL)
For a CMS, personal I would look no further than civicspace, it runs the spreadfirefox.com site and it can use the drupal hacks.