This growing trend, which in my opinion is great, seems to have come out of the simple concept: Keep It Simple Stupid. With sites like MSN and NBC, a user can easily get lost in finding what they’re looking for if it’s their first time visiting the site — think of your grandma that just got that brand new Intel Quad Core. They go in looking for show times and end up writing a chain letter about boycotting XYZ Corp.
Some of the biggest design sites out there (e.g. Smashing Magazine) award and applaud sites that adhere to standards, and many of their reward winners are professionally simple sites. Taste isn’t always more graphics.