I know for a fact that newspapers in my vertical will only link to an official, government site. They will also link to the company that sponsored the reporter's ability to get the story, in the interests of "disclosure". Neither applies to me.
I can only get links by working hard for them. That is, I reach out to the source and find out what content they're interested in and then write it so they can link to it. This boosts the content and seems to give a little boost to the authority of the site. It keeps me from disappearing.
I can't compete with big brands for big keywords but I can compete on long tails. Big brands have big payrolls to meet. I don't.