What I do, and my site has a very large tree, consisting of 600,000 pages, is create page types for organization as well, which is our preferred method. In your scenario I would create a page type for the years, call them NewsYears or whatever you like. That way it is easy to lock the news with child/parent types under the years. You could also assign permissions so editor's can create news, but not create years, or assign that to someone specifically. Also you could write a bit of custom code to prevent additions to previous years.
Brenden's way is fine, my way is fine, it all depends on how you want to do it.
An added bonus is you could create different content for each year Page if you decided to down the road, I use this method for archiving. Otherwise there isn't a way to organize the documents visually in the tree by date.