When I was in university, beside taking pics for my university's two papers, I took pics for local community rags. These were usually non-profit small circulation papers and it was all voluntary. They supplied film sometimes and maybe even paid for a luch or two. I didn't care for the money so much as the experience and the practice.
I then did some freelance work for the city paper. To get that job, I had to submit pics in the hope one would get published. I submitted a pic of man pinned under a car during a water main break. The car was swept by the water and trapped this poor guy. Several people were already at the scene trying unpin the guy and the fire truck was about 200 feet away by the time I came across the incident. I had my trusty Pentax with me and snapped away, since there was absolutely nothing else I could have done. Rushed to the darkroom and then rushed to the paper with prints in hand. I think I made $25 for those pics.
A friend who works in the editing department of Conde Nast tell me today, you have to either team up with a writer or do some writing yourself and come up with a theme. Have the pics and the story for submission and hope it gets picked up.