I was looking at the Google search results for the NYC transit strike in comparison to the SERPs for the Saddam Hussein trial.
The comparison shows what the news sites consider more important as well as how the engines change how they list an event the older it gets.
For the strike you have MSNBC, Yahoo! news, the governemnt, CNN, CBS, the MTA and USA Today - high end sites for an event that is all of two days old... five if you start from Friday when the first risk of strike started.
Now Saddam Hussein is old news.... he was hunted, caught and now is on trial - but it has been running for quite some time and the immediacy of the news sites coverage has been replaced by more broadbased sites... Human Rights Watch tops the list.... a couple of edu blogs and CNN is there, along with the Washington Post and the BBC.
When a story first breaks it seems the news portals grab the front of the SERPs, but as the story is pushed into the archives other sites take the front.
This would suggest that the engines read news sites a little differently. Timely gets to the top but once archived the spot is dropped.