Instead of trying to distinguish various shades of gray to see if there are new postings, I have started to use the All Threads By Date to find new postings. That means I have to scroll down to the bottom of the list more often than not to use it.
I'd strongly prefer to see it lead the Author's hangout, which it does in alphabetical order, but after your Site Announcements, which clearly is the most important topic. Other topics could be sorted alphabetically too, or by the number of postings. We are probably getting an idea of what topics are getting more use than others. Its likely more use reflects the importance to site visitors, and since its lots easier to see the top couple of sites on my screen, which I expect follows other users experiences, it might be better to put the stuff people want to see most toward the top.
If other people don't want to visit new postings through All Threads By Date, then keeping it at the bottom probably makes sense. But only looking at new topics makes so much sense (to me) I think using it that way will grow in popularity. Despite its popularity as a novel, multiple shades of gray make it hard for me to see if there is a new topic or not for any particular group. Maybe a big green dot for each topic with new postings on the main Forum screen would make it obvious there is something to see.