I'm much the same (although much lighter on bothering to read the comments). And yes, the beta is a step backwards for this. And I'm likely to visit a bit less often if the beta becomes default, just because the information density is so much less.
It's nice to be able to skim the headlines easily, especially when so many of the stories are either dated or uninteresting. And most of the stories will be uninteresting to a large proportion of the users, just because different stories will be uninteresting to different people. Hence we need to be able to skim easily. Sure, make sure there's enough information presented in as easy to understand a format as possible, but we don't want or need yet another generic eye-candy-heavy news site.