GWT requires hostings with Tomcat+Java, which must allow to use GWT. It's first of the lots of impediments for the guy, who for the first time is starting to do something with web development.
RoR (Ruby on Rails) is better solution that GWT, but the same thing - requires server which can host RoR websites.
Really the easiest solution is just PHP, like OP already did. There are tons of free hosting offers with PHP and even MySQL, even more articles, books and tutorials about learning PHP.
OP needed just a way to create news system, not a big web application