My favorite part of the new style guide, by far, is the addition of photo cutouts. I think doing whole or partial photo cuts will make the publication look more professional and also adds an element of spontaneity that is missing from the current design. Like Meredith said, the cuts are a little "treat" for the reader, and I especially love the freedom to overlap and layer that comes with this element.
The side-by-side hed and dek treatment, complete with newly updated typefaces, sounded a little unorthodox but looks great. The contrast between the bold hed and delicate dek works really well in creating a clear hierarchy among the page elements. Also, the vertical bar between the two is a very popular current design element that works much better than the whole stacked Frutiger/Frutiger thing that was getting quite old.