First requirement: persistence.
If you want to read some good stuff about post-Katrina New Orleans, you can't beat Dan Baum's work for the New Yorker. Here's Dan Baum's account (via gawker.com) of his 17-year effort to get published in the mag.
Then, his firing. Er, he's Twittering the whole thing, so this may take awhile.
UPDATE: OK, I tried reading this and you need to start at the bottom, with older posts. It's like reading some kind of scroll painting. In a mirror. Upside down.
BONUS FEATURE: Dan offers a peek at story proposals (both successful and not) he's sent out over the years on his website.