Complexity is poor design. So I decided it was time to kill the database and Django and go for a much simpler solution.
My home page uses 3 spreadsheets as data stores - News, Projects, and Recent Publications. Each one is implemented similarly, so I'll include the code here for my News in case anyone wants to try this. It relies on Google's visualization library since Google wrote this to make it easy to use their charts and visualizations based on their spreadsheet data.