It's essentially an all-in-one-place, fast-loading topic page that houses all of the assets, and updates them, on any given story. The relative inelegance esthetically is offset by relative performance functionally.
Each package is given its own URL, which then makes it more accessible, and includes a summary, a catalogue of assets, a timeline and a filter that curates content well.
While there aren't any ads --- yet --- on the splash page, there are clearly some opportunities for revenue generation. At the moment Google is only working with the Times and Post, but its FAQ on Living Stories indicates it is looking at creating open-source tools for other organizations to use.