The Most Powerful ‘Daily’ Episodes From 2021

It was a year that, at times, felt indistinguishable from the one before. “The Daily” spent it covering a crisis that felt both extraordinary and mundane: We chronicled coronavirus vaccinations, followed the rise of variants and embedded in schools most affected by the pandemic.

But our team also sought out the stories that stood apart: the insurrection at the Capitol, the evolution of cryptocurrency and the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. We told these stories through the voices of people who had witnessed them firsthand. We went inside an Oklahoma abortion clinic, watched Broadway’s reopening and investigated the rise of the German far right.

It’s been another big year, and we’re grateful you listened with us throughout. If you missed any episodes, we’ve compiled a list of what we think are our best shows of the year:

The Daily Poster

‘The Decision of My Life’

A young woman’s choice under the Taliban.

This story is one of the most impactful, timely and important pieces of audio I’ve ever heard. There’s not a single person I know who listened to it and didn’t talk about it for weeks. — Jessica Cheung, a producer

The Daily Poster

Abuse Inside Canada’s Residential Schools

Recently, the nation has had to confront one of its darkest chapters. We speak to a survivor of the state-sponsored maltreatment of Indigenous children.

This episode was very difficult to work on. The details in it are so traumatic, but I think it’s extremely important to document these systematic crimes and not let them be plastered over or forgotten. — Chris Wood, audio mix engineer

The Daily Poster

A Nursing Home’s First Day Out of Lockdown

Residents in West Virginia shared their feelings about being allowed to mix again after months of isolation.

In a year that continued to feel very heavy in many ways, this episode stands out for its levity and joy. Hearing the residents of Good Shepherd enjoy the simple pleasure of eating a meal in the dining room again, or playing a game together, gave me optimism when I needed it most. And the takeaways from the reporter, Sarah Mervosh — that there will be no “on” switch to end this pandemic, no single moment when things feel normal again — feels resonant now more than ever. — Anita Badejo, an editor

The Daily Poster

A Food Critic Loses Her Sense of Smell

A Times restaurant critic is on a quest to regain a crucial ability after Covid-19.

This episode changed my perception of Covid symptoms. As much as I’d heard about loss of smell, I never quite understood it until I listened to this. It also made me rethink the emotional experiences of different senses and how they help us relate to the world. Rachelle Bonja, a producer

The Daily Poster

An Assault on the Capitol

A mob incited by President Trump stormed into Congress, disrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. We hear from our colleagues who were inside the building.

This day was a defining moment in American history, and the episode helped contextualize what happened via the perspective of our reporters who experienced it firsthand. To me, it’s an example of how necessary and useful “The Daily” is for understanding the forces shaping the United States and the world. — Rachel Quester, a producer and editor

The Daily Poster

Stories From the Great American Labor Shortage

We speak to businesses scrambling to find workers — and the former employees unwilling to return to those jobs.

I love it when the team has a question — in this case, “Why aren’t people returning to work now that we’re coming out of lockdown?” — and instead of going to a reporter for the answer, we ask the people affected. We have a term for episodes like this one; we call them “vignette episodes” because they serve up little snapshots on a theme. They’re one of my favorite types, because we hear from a variety of voices, including the people who normally work behind the scenes: our producers. — Alexandra Leigh Young, deputy producer

The Daily is made by Lisa Tobin, Rachel Quester, Lynsea Garrison, Clare Toeniskoetter, Paige Cowett, Michael Simon Johnson, Brad Fisher, Larissa Anderson, Chris Wood, Jessica Cheung, Stella Tan, Alexandra Leigh Young, Lisa Chow, Eric Krupke, Marc Georges, Luke Vander Ploeg, M.J. Davis Lin, Austin Mitchell, Dan Powell, Dave Shaw, Sydney Harper, Daniel Guillemette, Robert Jimison, Mike Benoist, Liz O. Baylen, Asthaa Chaturvedi, Kaitlin Roberts, Rachelle Bonja, Diana Nguyen, Marion Lozano, Corey Schreppel, Anita Badejo, Rob Szypko, Elisheba Ittoop, Chelsea Daniel, Mooj Zadie, Patricia Willens and Rowan Niemisto.

Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly. Special thanks to Sam Dolnick, Paula Szuchman, Cliff Levy, Lauren Jackson, Julia Simon, Mahima Chablani, Sofia Milan, Desiree Ibekwe, Erica Futterman, Wendy Dorr, Elizabeth Davis-Moorer, Jeffrey Miranda and Maddy Masiello.