How Primary is that Information in the Newspaper?

Trautvetter’s fine and jail time probably came from official records. The second sentence–probably not.

Any source can be accurate. Any source can be inaccurate. The reality is that most sources are somewhere in between and the researcher has to determine where to give the most credence. That’s particularly true with newspapers who have to balance deadlines and bottom lines with getting the complete and accurate story. It can be a difficult balancing act. That newspaper account of your relative’s scandalous behavior, appearance in court, etc. may have relied on information from extremely reliable sources, second hand sources, biased sources, etc.

And if the newspaper has a political bent and your relative was of the “other party,” they may not always be mentioned in the most favorable light.

And the newspaper may also drop in a little opinion about your ancestor’s behavior as well. Some newspapers sprinkle the opinion on more than just the opinion page.

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