Sam Gringlas

Updated June 9, 2021 at 11:31 AM ET

From the pandemic to racial justice protests, a contested election and a second presidential impeachment: The events of the past year divided the nation, but they also challenged conventional notions held in newsrooms about objectivity and fairly representing diverse points of view.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

For generations, Sesame Street has been a mainstay of American children's television. But when the show premiered more than 50 years ago on Nov. 10, 1969, it was considered controversial, even radical.

"In 1969, what was on TV for kids was a very dire landscape," says Marilyn Agrelo, the director of a new documentary called Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Earlier this month, President Biden announced that the U.S. would withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, effectively bringing an end to a "forever war" spurred by the terrorist attacks 20 years earlier on Sept. 11, 2001. His promise has been met with backlash from both Republicans and moderate Democrats in Congress.

The job market is starting to roar back, but for anxious college seniors like Bao Ha, it's a different reality altogether.

"I've probably applied to like 130 or 40 jobs or something," Ha says. "I have not gotten even an email back, or an interview."

Ha is graduating soon from Macalaster College in Minnesota, and between his anthropology thesis and trying to check items off his senior year bucket list, he has spent hours crafting cover letters and scouring job postings.

And now, self-doubt has started to trickle in.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Marty Walsh, the two-term mayor of Boston, was confirmed as the Labor secretary by the Senate in a 68-29 vote on Monday, becoming the first union leader to run the department in over four decades.

Walsh will become the head of the Labor Department at a critical time, as the pandemic has left millions unemployed and raised concerns about workplace safety.

The former union leader will also serve in a Biden administration that has pledged to protect the power of unions and is looking to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Jillian Melton and Paul Sklar work at two restaurants hundreds of miles apart. And when it comes to the $15 minimum wage debate, their differences in views could almost be as vast.

The push by Democrats to raise the federal minimum wage would also eliminate a decades-long practice of paying restaurant servers as little as $2.13 an hour under the expectation they would earn far more through tips.

Janitor Gloria Espinoza still vividly remembers the moment she was laid off last year.

A supervisor gathered her and her colleagues at a parking lot of the office where she worked in San Francisco and then broke the news.

"I thought, 'God, why us?'," Espinoza said. "It was like receiving a bucket of cold water."

Months later, Espinoza is still unemployed and part of a worrying economic statistic: While the labor market is showing signs of recovery, millions who lost jobs at the beginning of the pandemic a year ago are still out of the labor force.

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