How will the information historians get from old newspapers be different from that found in police reports?
For writing about any period in history, a historian needs to gather information from various sources so that he/she can get a clearer picture of the life and times of the period concerned. The archived official documents provide the picture from the point of view of the people in power. A police report is one such official document. Archived police reports help the historian attain a better understanding about the police, its functions, and its relation with the people who were policed, thereby providing the historian with invaluable data regarding an important administrative unit. However, this advantage is also a disadvantage. The very nature of police records restricts the amount or the kind of information one can possibly get from them. They are official documents relating to a particular official function; hence, they are limited in this sense. Another problem with official recordings is that often they only present what the persons in authority want to be presented.
Therefore, for getting a wider and balanced view of a period in history, a historian also goes through the unofficial records relating to that period, like the diaries of people, accounts of pilgrims and travellers, autobiographies of important personalities, popular booklets, newspapers, etc. Unlike the restricted nature of official documents like police records, recordings such as newspapers have the advantage of providing varied information to the historian. However, it would not be right to say that such information represents the complete truth. Even a newspaper report may be influenced by the biases and interests of the person writing the report.