It's a good idea actually..
It might be possible to take the custom (unreleased) blogging addon i made for smf (see http://blog.donationcoder.com
) and modify that to do what you are saying without too much trouble. Basically it does 90% of what you are saying but displays the most recent special items as a blog instead of as a banner.
What would happen if there was no picture associated with a new item?