Newspaper editors are always on the lookout for the next big story. Though most newspapers rely on staff writers, wire services and established freelancers for most of their news, a truly interesting story can be written by anyone. Pitch a great story idea to an editor that is of interest to his audience and you could find that getting your name in print is easier than you imagined.
Take a hard look at the article you want to publish and ask yourself why someone would be interested in reading it. Decide on the audience that might be interested in the piece and make a list of the selling points. Include these points in your conversation or email proposal to the editor.
Determine the market for your story. Think about the newspaper or section of the paper where it is best suited. Is it perfect for the gardening section of your local paper, or would it be of interest to readers of the financial section of a national publication?
Contact the submissions editor of your local newspaper or the editor of the section you're targeting . You can usually find information regarding submissions on the website or on the editorial page of the paper. Find out the paper's policy for submissions and pitch your idea before you start writing. Take this step to ensure that there is interest in the idea. An editor might also guide you to better define the angle of your story.
Read through your newspaper of choice to get an idea of the style, tone and types of stories it publishes. Most papers use the Associated Press (AP) style guide. You can find a quick guide to basic AP formatting at owl.english.purdue.edu.
Ensure that your story is gramatically correct and written to journalistic standards, answering the "who, what, where, when and how". Send your article to the submissions editor or as you were directed in your earlier contact with the paper. Follow up after a few days to ensure your story was received. It's usually best to contact editors in the early morning hours before their deadlines.
Keep in contact if you want a career as a newspaper reporter or freelance writer. The more you work with editors, the easier it will be to pitch ideas and pick up assignments. Start with your community newspaper or special interest publication in your area to get experience. Most cities have general interest newspapers as well as publications that cater to specific groups and ethnicities.