Getting a job as a newspaper reporter sometimes can be a crapshoot, especially in a market where most papers are cutting, not hiring.
In the old days, the newspaper reporter was considered a blue-collar kind of worker, a man of the streets who haunted barrooms as much as he did City Hall. He didn't have to go college.
Today, there is a generally accepted route to a job as a newspaper reporter.
After you finish high school, go to college and major in journalism or something somewhat related - political science, English, history, etc. (If I were an editor, I'd look for a much wider variety of study than just those, though.) Write for your college newspaper and save samples (clips) of your work. Use them to get an internship while still in school. Freelance for newspapers in the area of your college to develop even more clips. You will need a good cross section of published work samples to get any reporting job in the real world.
That is the accepted route, though there are exceptions.
I got a job at my local paper while still in high school simply by walking in the door and talking to the editor about my interests. And many local newspapers seek help from longtime residents of their communities, regardless of degree.
If you're looking to break into a job with a major paper like The New York Times or The Washington Post, there are two pieces of advice - do amazing work somewhere else before you apply or know someone who knows someone who can give you a plug. Otherwise, you will most likely follow the route of working for a small daily or weekly, moving onto a slightly larger paper, then a bigger one yet, and just then maybe have a chance at the big city gig. More and more people, though, end up rising to the ranks of an editor job at a smaller paper because the chances of landing that dream reporting job in New York are slim to none.
The bottom line is this: You CAN'T control what specific peeves and interests a hiring editor may have. You CAN control your work. Do the best work possible and lots of it before it comes time to apply for that first job. Someone will hire you.
Whether any reporting job you get will pay you what you're worth is fodder for another Hub.