We, the media, are pretty good at pointing out the problems. Here at the Inlander, of course, we aim to include some reporting on how to improve the situation — a postscript of hope, if you will. But over on TV, there's often a steady diet of shootings, prowlings and the latest weather catastrophe. At times, it can feel like we're marinating in gloom. Or as Donald Trump so succinctly likes to put it: "We're doomed!"

So to rise above it all here on the edge of 2016, we're digging deep into the good old days of pioneer journalism to revive the "Progress Edition." Back when the West was still being won, newspapers serving outposts of all sizes and prospects published a progress edition to mark the ground gained. These were the days when cities competed with each other in the size of their parks system, the height of their courthouse and whether the railroad decided to come through. The prize was new settlers — humanpower to make their city even bigger and better.

Of course our ideas about growth have become more nuanced in the years since Manifest Destiny, but quality-of-life concerns and pride of place matter more than ever. There are winners and losers — no city's prosperity is guaranteed — and every region makes its own future, project by project, year by year.

With all the cacophony, it can be hard to recognize progress, so put the controversies aside for a moment and consider some of the highlights from 2015. On the beer-and-pizza index, for example, we're booming. And the Inland Northwest may have just had its most productive budget session ever in Olympia. Take that, Tacoma!

Just a month from now, the good citizens of Iowa will congregate for their traditional presidential caucus that, some say, will have no actual bearing on the selection of our next president. But it does mark the official start of the presidential campaign.

As we've done in 2008 and 2012, we'll devote an entire column to that race and others; we call it Trail Mix, which you'll find in this space starting next week. My Publisher's Note will take a break, but starting in February I'll offer up a monthly column.

In Trail Mix, we'll do some of the heavy lifting of separating fact from fantasy, with a dash of the ridiculous. Of course, choosing our leader is serious business, so we'll try to arm you with the information you need to participate in our democracy wisely. ♦

Dreamworks Animation: The Exhibition — Journey From Sketch to Screen @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 11
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About The Author

Ted S. McGregor Jr.

Ted S. McGregor, Jr. grew up in Spokane and attended Gonzaga Prep high school and the University of the Washington. While studying for his Master's in journalism at the University of Missouri, he completed a professional project on starting a weekly newspaper in Spokane. In 1993, he turned that project into reality...