Yes maynard, I read the whole thing.
I'm one of those who has been away from /. for many years now as it has slowly faded away. I must admit that my visits are few and far between as I see the "same old stuff" when I do visit. Then they dropped this "beta" thing and it was a "wonderful, let's emulate example.com to be relevant again" moment. Yes, I'm guilty of the old "if it ain't broken..." axiom.
As someone who never visits Reddit, I suspect it's being used by people as I did when I surfed /. but from a less technical point of view. I simply viewed /. as part of my daily web surfing while doing my job as a Unix admin. Sometimes, it paid off as I would glean some important bit of news before anyone else saw it and, as such, my daily surfing was easy to justify to management. Now that I'm no longer sitting in a cubicle and no longer need to justify surfing, my time is much more limited so sites like /. do not get my attention.
I've always felt there was great potential in the journal concept but it was poorly executed. Your idea would certainly help get it on the proper track.