Newspapers prefer hiring reporters that have prepared a packet of clips, the folder of published pages will allow the hirer to get a chance to get a feel for the work that you are capable of producing. Education is also important but it's hands-on experience that tells an editor that you are more than well prepared for the job. Some ways to be able to collect the clips for your packet are to write for your college newspaper. There will events within the school that you will be able to cover. College journalism is also a good opportunity to get practical feedback on your writing or design skills and work out your problem areas before you head out for a job search.
When it comes time to search for a job, think about taking a reporter job at a weekly or small-town newspaper. Not only will you have the opportunity, with a smaller staff, to collect lots of clips but you also gain a wide range of experience. Because of the necessity to multi task with small staffing, as a writer you'll also likely learn pagination programs and Photo shop skills. You might start out as an editorial assistant, compiling the calendar or obituaries and doing office work like faxing and copying. By starting out at the bottom of the newsroom ladder, bosses get the opportunity to observe qualities they'll want in a reporter: ability to meet deadlines, turning in clean copies, going one step beyond the call of duty and the ability to work well with others and have a good attitude at the same time. This experience will more than prepare you for a higher job position.
Rules of journalism are being rewritten by the flourishing Internet, and news organizations are taking notice. So make them notice your work. Start blogs and get your work and name out there. Be involved and work with other journalists who have ties to people that can be beneficial to your future. Create a group of friends that keep in contact and update you on opportunities that are out there in the field of journalism. A lot of people want to be journalists, proofreaders or photographers and there's a small industry in companies that exploit this by selling training that isn't widely respected in the industry. That's not to say it won't help you, just that you might not get value for money and might find that the benefits of the training are oversold to you. If you are going for a degree, it might make the most sense to choose a non-media degree. That gives you a specialism to write about and you can always pick up the media training later. Most major publishers look to graduates to fill their entry-level positions.
There are a lot of companies offering on the job training. The deal here is usually that they use you for the work, and you use them for the training. Not much money will be made on your part. As long as they give you a real chance to learn quickly, they're the less expensive way to get the knowledge and training you need instead of having to take a course. There are no certificates that will help you as much as experience will, so start writing as soon as you have an opportunity.