After much thought and yes, a lot of work and time-wasting on my part, I finally got around to editing News Print theme and updating it to give authors the chance to select whether there are three or as someone kindly suggested, two, main columns.
This is a simple thing really – just a simple switch in the index.php does the job. $three_column is set to 1 automatically, meaning the default three columns + sidebar prevail. Set it to 0 and you have your two columns, that’s all you have to do. Just bear in mind that the first two columns will be picked for subject matter (#left, #middle).