Simsi - 10:02 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)
Most of the "articles" on Britannica are only 2 or 3 sentences surrounded by ads (this is because you have to subscribe to get the full article). If this update was about thin content or too much ad real estate, then I would have expected Britannica to fall in the rankings.
But if I ran Google I would have an exceptions file which would contain Brittanica & NYT and others. There are some sites that you simply have to have in your SERPS.
And Google doesn't have to try to be "fair" as such (although I think it is in it's best interests) - it just needs to try and deliver the best results it can to searchers.