You already received a lot of very good advice, but I just want to say that I did write a published food column in a couple of suburban newspapers in the SW suburban area of the Twin Cities (MN) for about 4 years. These newspapers had a weekly readership of about 56,000. I know people must have been reading them, because people would stop me (they published my mug shot with the column) and tell me about this or that review I did and how they went there because of what I said.
I always felt a slight moment of dread hoping that they had a good experience. Not one time did someone tell me that they had a bad experience, and so after a while, I got pretty relaxed when someone would recognize me. One restaurant in Excelsior, MN, the Mai Tai, actually asked the publisher for permission to blow up my review to 8' x 12' and they posted on the wall of their foyer entrance. Maybe I am being a bit narcisistic, but I did get a thrill everytime I went there to eat after that and saw myself "bigger than life" looking down on me! :)
Suburban newspapers do get read, and I think people tend to trust what they read in these local rags, perhaps a bit more than they do the really big newspapers. That is just a feeling I got anyway.
These type of newpapers are a lot easier to get published in, and you may not get paid for doing it, but the value lies in the experience, and getting your name out in the public domain. They can also serve well on a resume when looking for a full time position.
I think it is important to develop a "voice" when writing. A means by which you create an identifiable style that people learn to recognize.
Good luck to you.