Upload & Sell: Off
Here is some advice straight from the source. Currently, I am the Photo Editor for a major daily newspaper in Colorado. That means I hire freelancers for assignments on a pretty regular basis.
1. Email and call the Photo Editor/Director of Photography/whatever they call them and introduce yourself. Get straight to the point. Photo Editors are usually very busy and don't have time to talk shop. If you want to freelance for them, say it.
2. Be prepared to email links to your work while you are on the phone. It happens that quick. If you don't have some sort of online presence outside of Facebook, I'm not interested in you. If you are a professional or want people to think you are, I want to see a full page of Google search results with your photos, a personal portfolio web site, blog, etc.
3. If you only want to shoot a specific thing, such as sports, tell the editor that. Be prepared to show examples of your work that support your request. If your portfolio is filled with photos from weddings and you want to shoot high school sports, I'm not going to hire you. I'm not interested in giving you experience for your portfolio. I need images that I can run in print/online, where ever.
4. If I call, say yes to the assignment. I will be honest here, I like to hire great photographers to cover assignments for me. However, if a really great photographer is flaky, can't meet deadlines or is rarely available, I will move on to the slightly less great photographer who is reliable, courteous and meets my deadlines. That simple. Reliability and dependability goes a long way in photojournalism.
5. Be a good person. Yeah, this one is strange I know. Here's a simple truth with photojournalism and professional photography: nice goes a long way to getting where you want. If I hire you for an assignment, I am essentially saying that you are representing me, my paper, company, etc. while shooting. Photojournalism is a small, tight knit group of people and it's getting smaller everyday. If you talk sh!t, people will find out. If you badmouth an editor or another photographer online in any searchable form I will find out. It's a good way to get black listed pretty quick. Editors talk to other editors. Often, editors from other papers outside the area will call looking for a freelancer in the area to cover something. If you are a decent person I might suggest that they call you. Just like that, your freelance career gets a boost.
6. Beer. Buying drinks helps lubricate portfolio reviews and gets you face time with editors. Just saying.
Hope that helps.
I like #6 the most, but on a serious note, thanks for the tips, they are really useful.