We've just released a new plugin for Moodle 2.2+. (Yes, '+': purely by coincidence, this one already works on Moodle 2.3!)
It's a block that displays news messages, and we've called it the news block. (Not a very original name. Sorry. We did consider 'the boggleogglesquoop block' but it didn't fit in the dropdown.)
This is a replacement for the standard Moodle 'news forum + latest news block' combination.
I made a short (5m) screencast demonstrating how to use the block (running on standard Moodle 2.3). Assuming I haven't run out of bandwidth, you might as well watch the screencast; there aren't any jokes but at that length you can probably survive it anyway.
Features include various options for how messages display (e.g. hiding the author name, if the author isn't important), setting up messages in advance to appear on a certain date, multiple news blocks on the same course if you want to separate different types of news, grouping support so that some messages only appear to a subset of students, and integrated RSS input and output. Combined, you can use the RSS features to post shared news (for example, have a science faculty news block on one course, then include those messages automatically in news blocks on each of a dozen science courses).
The block was originally designed by me; we paid for development by Catalyst. After that initial development we've done minor changes in-house (bug-fixing etc.), and Anthony Forth, another OU lead developer, added grouping support.
To get the block for your own system, download it via the GitHub site.
Disclaimer: the block probably hasn't been much tested on systems that are different to the OU's. I recommend that you try out any new plugins on a test system before using them in production. Unless you really like downtime. :)