I think old local newspapers are a much under used source, probably because they are not widely available and not indexed (for the most part). I really like looking at old local newspapers because:
1. There are no privacy restrictions to stop you looking at them
There is no 100 year rule or similar that is going to stop you looking at local newspapers, and certainly no need for Freedom of Information requests.
2. They often survive when official reports have long since been lost
Many times the newspaper provides the only record of an event for which the official record has long since been lost or destroyed. For example, Coroner’s inquests and court cases.
3. They often record events where there are no official records
Many times newspapers will provide the only record of an event that was not recorded elsewhere, such as a sporting event or wedding anniversary.
4. They contain more human interest than official records
Newspaper reports often contain the names and ages of family members and relations, where they came from and what their relationships was to the subject.
5. They give you an idea of what was happening in your ancestor’s world
It is almost impossible to avoid reading about everything else that was going on (even if you wanted to), what the weather was like, what was happening locally etc.
6. They usually contain more information than you would find in one official source
Think of a marriage certificate and the equivalent report of a wedding in a local newspaper, which names both parents, where the bride and groom were going to live and what colour the bride’s hat was!
All that being said, they can be hard to locate, they can take hours to search unless you have an exact date and most of all they are written in the most part by someone whose only interest in the event was probably just to make an interesting story that would sell more copies of the newspaper, so much like today, don’t believe everything (or anything) you read!