I am specifically looking for something that looks like it is made for this purpose. I'd love something with a newspaper-style interface, with several columns and some flexibility for layout. i will have approx 30 smaller essays (3-5 paragraphs) to display.
I'm looking for more than a blog, simpler than Yola or Weebly. Google Docs has some templates that work, but they don't seem quite right. What have you used?
"More than a blog" is actually pretty difficult to get to short of a full bodied CMS like Joomla or Drupal, and you can't use a free site for those, as far as I know.
I'd recommend wordpress.com and one of the magazine templates -- maybe F8 Lite. I'm not sure these days how much flexibility you have to mod the templates there, but Wordpress is the de facto standard web publishing tool these days for people who don't have complex data relationships to deal with.