The latest and greatest on CNN iReport, brought to you by Team iReport.
We are excited to announce that CNN iReport is getting a new look to make it easier for you to share your stories, photos and videos with CNN. By simply including the hashtag #CNNiReport on your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts, the content of those posts will be sent automatically to CNN.
iReport was one of the first user-generated social networks by any news organization when it launched in 2006. With the changing landscape in news becoming more mobile and social-media focused, we are making these updates to allow our CNN and iReport community to better connect with the network's growing mobile and social presence around the world.
CNN's teams are working hard to make these changes, and you should start to see them next week.
Questions about iReport? Please feel free to contact us. You can post questions in the comments below and we will respond throughout the week. You can also reach us on Twitter and Facebook at @CNNiReport or email contact@iReport.com.
Thank you for being a part of the iReport community and sharing your stories with CNN. We look forward to telling more amazing stories together!
We're excited to introduce you to a new member of the iReport crew. Please welcome Amanda Jackson!
Amanda has only been here four days, but she’s already vetted a bunch of newsy snow iReports and we’ve learned she has a soft spot for sunset photos. Here’s more from Amanda herself:
Amanda Jackson is a senior at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. She will be graduating in May with her Bachelor’s of Arts in communications with a media emphasis and a public relations minor. She graduated from Del Mar College in 2013 with a double degree, Associates of Arts in Journalism and Associates of Arts in Public Relations/Advertising.
Amanda moved to Atlanta in January 2015 to accept an internship at CNN with the iReport team. She is looking forward to this new adventure and being able to gain skills in digital media, news gathering, and web producing.
She previously worked at KRIS Communications in Corpus Christi. Amanda started as a camera operator/editor and was promoted to Web Content/Social Media Producer for the KRIS6 Sunrise Show in January 2014.
Amanda is fascinated by the way people now consume news through social media. She is looking forward to learning and growing in the media industry.
In her spare time, between work and class, she loves the beach and taking her pug, Baby Girl, out for adventures.
Feel free to message her with any story ideas or to just say hi.
Please say hello to Amanda in the comments below! We are so happy to have her as part of the team.
As many of you have heard, tomorrow is my last day at CNN. I am leaving for The Poynter Institute, where I've accepted a job as their first Digital Innovation faculty member.
Leaving CNN and, more notably, the iReport team was a really difficult decision for me. I have been part of the iReport crew since 2008, the year iReport.com was born, and I feel like many of our most active community members are real-life friends.
The iReport community is like no other. It's incredible to watch people across the world share their stories because they have a unique perspective on the news. Likewise, it has been a joy to work alongside the amazingly talented iReport team. No one knows participatory storytelling better than Christina, Daphne, David, Rachel, Sarah, Jareen and Henry.
While I'm undoubtedly sad to leave iReport, I am eager to see what's ahead for the team. There are some exciting changes in store for 2015 -- more details to come in the near future -- and you can rest assured I'll be cheering from the sidelines.
Thank you, the wonderful iReport community, for teaching me so much during my time at CNN. It's been an honor to play a small role in helping to share your stories with the world.
We’ve made a lot of changes here at CNN over the past few days. I hope you’re enjoying the new site, now that you’ve had some time to play with it.
The headlines are bigger, there are more photos and videos and we’ve moved a lot of stuff around (including iReport, which is linked up in the Opinions section, if you don’t use the direct link).
These changes are designed to showcase CNN’s great storytelling, including the stories we tell together. You can learn more about the changes from our editor-in-chief, Meredith Artley.
We are aware that some iReporters are getting logged out of the site randomly (it’s happening to us too). Our developers are working on this issue and we will let you know when it’s fixed. We appreciate your patience in the meantime.
The site relaunch is a huge project and we’re still working out a few kinks, so please let us know if you have any suggestions, or see something that isn’t working right. You can private message me, or email CNN.Support.Communications@cnn.com.
We're excited to introduce you to a new member of the iReport crew. Please welcome Shaniece Mason!
Shaniece has only been here for one week, but she’s already using her wit to dream up creative iReport projects. Turns out, she’s pretty funny too. We asked her to write a little bit about herself and the resulting bio was pretty epic:
Hello! I'm Shaniece and I'm very excited to be joining the iReport team this fall! I've been dreaming of working at CNN since the first time I saw Larry King's spiffy suspenders. Look Ma, I made it! Currently, I'm a senior majoring in Journalism and minoring in Theater and Sociology at Georgia State University. GSU is the best school in the country and if you say otherwise, we can have a discussion about it.
I'm a self-proclaimed news addict. If I can watch it, read it and follow it on Twitter, I'm all over it. My hobbies include posting pictures of my meals on Instagram, starring as many songs as possible on Spotify and getting addicted to television shows that get canceled after one season. I hope to bring my millennial insight and love for journalism to this amazing iReport team. I'm excited to learn all I can from this amazing opportunity and strengthen my skills as a journalist!
Please say hello to Shaniece in the comments below! We’re thrilled to have her as part of the team.
Editor’s note: This blog post was written by Talia Day, CNN iReport’s summer 2014 intern. Day, who curated our Travel Photo of the Day gallery throughout her internship, shared some of her top photography tips with the iReport community.
You don't need an expensive camera or years of training to capture a stunning image. The best photos require a good eye for visual storytelling and the patience to wait for the right moment.
If you are like many CNN iReporters, your overall aim is to get your photos, videos and stories on CNN. That tiny red icon isn't simply for show, it means your content meets CNN’s standards – and that’s something to be proud of!
To help you make the cut, we've written a list of five common problems that may prevent your images from being verified by CNN, as well as some general photography tips.
1. Over or underexposed images
Even a well-composed image can be ruined if it's improperly exposed. Exposure refers to the amount of light your camera uses to render an image.
If the camera's sensor is exposed to too much light, an image will be overexposed. That means your photo will appear too bright and lose some detail.
To avoid this pitfall, don't face the sun while you're shooting and, if you can, avoid shooting against bright backgrounds.
If the sensor isn't exposed to enough light, an image will be underexposed. Similar to an overexposed photo, important detail will be lost. This time, though, your image will appear too dark.
To save yourself the headache, make sure that you are in a well-lit area and utilize your camera’s flash component in low-light situations.
The easiest way to avoid both scenarios is to make sure you are shooting in the best possible light with the best possible camera settings. For more advanced users, check your f-stop, ISO and shutter speed to adjust for each lighting condition.
2. Bad composition
A poorly composed photo can leave the viewer uninterested and sometimes confused. Having a subject that’s too far away or cropping the photo too much can hurt the photo’s composition.
When the subject is too far away, the audience can get distracted by having too many objects to focus on. There’s no clear focal point of the image.
Often times we may resort to cropping an image to get closer. This quick fix can severely affect the quality of your photo by cutting down its resolution or leaving out important details, like the surrounding location.
The best way to zoom in is with your feet – get close to the subject! If you have the resources, invest in a telephoto or zoom lens that allows you to get closer without leaving your position. Also, remember that photos and videos with horizontal or landscape orientations are used more frequently by CNN and have a higher chance of being featured.
3. Overediting and compositing
With the advent of software like Adobe Photoshop, photographers have been given a new range of tools to enhance and correct their photos. Because we’re looking for newsworthy images, we encourage photos that are as true to real life as possible. Here are some examples of overediting:
Too much saturation
We all love colorful photos, but oversaturation distorts reality and therefore alters an image beyond the truth. If skin tones appear to be orange in hue or certain colors are hard to look at, you’ve done too much.
Too much contrast
When an image is slightly overexposed, it is natural to want to add in more contrast, but too much contrast can distort the image and affect its color and brightness. A photo that has been overedited may have colors that appear to be vibrating or a halo effect where shadows and highlights meet.
Removing or adding details to a photo that were not originally there is a form of compositing. We generally discourage images that are composites. The rare exception is some astrophotography, which we’re careful to tell viewers how the composite was created.
If you do make edits, please keep them to these basic changes: simple color correction, slight adjustments in brightness/contrast, minimal changes to exposure and some cropping.
4. Blurriness and low resolution
If your image is verified by CNN, it could be used both on-air and online. Please upload images at the highest resolution possible so they appear clear and crisp.
Images uploaded to CNN iReport should always be in focus. Checking your focus in camera and avoiding abrupt movement while shooting can ensure you capture a clear image. Even smartphones have auto-focus features that you can use – just tap and hold the part of the image you want to focus on.
In the age of the Internet, many photographers feel they should take special measures to protect their work. One way to ensure that you are credited is watermarking; this process involves superimposing text over a photograph as an identifier.
Watermarks are great tools when posting your images online, but can become more of an obstruction if done improperly.
A bad watermark is fairly large, created using an odd font/color and placed on top of relevant subjects in a photo.
The iReport team will always credit your images, whether online or on TV, so watermarking your image is not necessary.
If you are interested in having your work verified by CNN, it is best to upload images without a watermark. If you do watermark an image, be prepared to send us the original file so we can verify it.
By following the photography tips above and making sure your photos match our ethical standards, you’re one step closer to having your images verified by CNN. Our storytelling is only as good as the content you send. Go forth and capture the world!
Notice anything different on CNN iReport?
Today, we changed the banner on unapproved photos and videos from "Not Vetted By CNN" to "Not Verified By CNN." We decided to make the switch because the term "vetted" isn't as widely understood and recognized as "verified," especially as our community is located worldwide. While our verification process hasn't changed, we hope that the shift in language will help to clarify what's cleared by CNN and what isn't.
We receive hundreds of iReports a day, and only a fraction of those are cleared and approved for CNN's non-user-generated networks and platforms, after a CNN producer fact-checks and verifies the details of a story. When a story is approved, the "Not Verified for CNN" bar disappears and is replaced by a red "CNN iReport" bug that lets the community know a story has been cleared. Our producers also give iReport stories extra context, by adding producer notes with further details and/or additional quotes from the iReporter.
Sometimes people post deliberately untrue stories on iReport – about celebrity deaths or giant asteroids, for example. Hoaxes are one of the risks of user-generated content and we take them very seriously. In addition to changing the "Not Verified" banner, we're constantly looking for ways to improve our internal tools and workflows to better identify false content that may go viral. And as always, we encourage our users to flag any content they deem inappropriate.
Thankfully, the deliberately false stories are few and far between. The most powerful stories, of course, are the true ones – like Joe O'Neill's touching video of a centenarian's 80th college reunion; Raymond Angeles' colorful portraits of Berlin Fashion Week protesters; and Palestinian-American Naim Naif's heartbreaking account of what it's like to watch the ongoing Gaza conflict from afar. These are the stories worth sharing with the world.
We're so thankful for all of you who are part of the iReport community, and look forward to telling more amazing stories together. If you have other suggestions on how to improve the iReport experience, please let us know in the comments below.
It's easier than ever to share your images with CNN, simply by tagging #cnnireport on Instagram.
We joined Instagram in 2011, and since then, thousands of you have shared incredible photos and videos using #cnnireport. Now, we’re able to automatically highlight some of the best directly on iReport.com. The images will appear under the IGiReports account, along with the Instagram user’s username and caption. And of course, the cream of the crop have a good chance at being featured on CNN.
What kind of content are we looking for? Whether you’ve got a newsworthy photo of a wildfire, a portrait of what life is like in an indigenous tribe or a stunning travel photo, we’d like to see it. Follow @cnnireport on Instagram to see what other types of photos and videos we showcase on our feed.
If you've like a chance of being featured, tag your photos #cnnireport on Instagram. Please keep an eye on your feed when you tag us, as we might comment with some questions for you!
This is just one of the many ways you can upload your stories to iReport. (You can read all of the ways here.) If you have suggestions on other ways you would like to be able to share your stories, please
We're thrilled to introduce you to a new member of the iReport crew. Please welcome iReporter turned summer intern extraordinaire, Talia Day!
Talia shadowed our team twice during her other CNN internships and we’re happy to finally have her working alongside us this summer. We asked her to write a little bit about herself, so without further ado, we turn it over to her:
Hello! I’m Talia, a Savannah College of Art and Design student majoring in Television Producing and the new 2014 summer intern for CNN iReport. I have a passion for storytelling and an interest in all things digital, which is why I am super excited to be joining the iReport team!
Before coming to CNN, I worked as a freelancer for film/television and have had the privilege of traveling around the world. I’ve always been curious about different cultures and I almost always carry my camera (you never know when news will happen). My first love is documentary filmmaking and I am currently working to finish my latest film “Facing Freedom.” I know I will learn a lot from the iReport team and hope to become a vital part of the CNN iReport community. This is my third internship with CNN and I hope it’s the beginning of a long career with the network.
Say hello to Talia in the comments below! We’re excited to have her as part of the team.
Here's some cool news: We launched a new feature that invites you to share photos and videos with CNN directly from Google Glass. Yep, iReport is part of the wearable technology trend and we're pretty excited about it.
iReport has led the way with citizen journalism for years, and this is no exception. CNN is the first major news network to allow its audience to contribute stories directly via Google Glass.
If you're part of the Glass Explorer program, we hope you'll test out the iReport functionality. You never know when you'll spot breaking news, and it's a simple, fast way to share the images and videos you capture with your Glass.
To get started, you will need to authorize CNN to send notifications to your Glass. Once that's completed, you can manage your settings, like linking up your iReport profile. "CNN iReport" will then appear as sharing option for your photos and videos.
If you're a Glass Explorer, give it a try! We can't wait to see what kinds of stories you'll share.
First lady Michelle Obama has embarked on a week-long trip to China, where she will speak with students at several schools about the importance of education, youth empowerment and the benefits of studying abroad.
On Saturday, she’ll sit down to answer several CNN iReport video questions in an exclusive interview. Students, teachers, parents and other iReporters from across the world sent in more than 300 questions for the first lady along with personal stories about studying abroad.
This is the second iReport Interview with the first lady. The first one, filmed in 2012, was pegged to her Let's Move initiative.
UPDATE: You asked, and she answered. See which questions made the final cut and watch Obama's answers. Thanks to everyone who submitted questions -- it was a wonderful response!
We're in the midst of an exciting time here at CNN iReport. Last year we discovered the power of the personal essay, with countless compelling stories written by you, our talented community; we produced more iReport content for CNN Digital than ever before, including in-depth investigative stories that you first alerted us to; and we experimented with new methods of real-time audience interaction, including Google Hangouts on a variety of fascinating topics.
Of course, with growth comes change. After many discussions and careful consideration, we've decided to not host the CNN iReport Awards this year. We launched the Awards back in 2011 as a way to celebrate citizen journalism and honor our community's contributions. Since that time, we have honored dozens of impressive iReporters and have shown the world that iReport encompasses not only breaking news, but also commentary, interviews, personal stories, photo essays, original reporting, and in-depth storytelling.
The iReport Awards have been a labor of love over the years. Not hosting the Awards this year will allow our small but mighty team to produce even more compelling stories and fun projects with our community; to stay on top of the latest news and trends; and, most importantly, to work towards exciting and much-needed technical improvements to the site. We’ve got some exciting stuff planned for the year ahead, and look forward to sharing it with you all.
Thank you to all of you who are members of the amazing iReport community, and congratulations again to all of our past Awards recipients and nominees. You have helped build a worldwide network of creative, curious and smart people who have shown time and again that news stories affect all of us. We are so excited to continue sharing and telling your stories, in bigger and better ways than ever before.
We’re excited to introduce you to a new member of the iReport crew! Our spring intern, Maggie Blaha, left snowy New Jersey for sunny Atlanta, or so she thought.
During this week’s rare snow and ice, Maggie has already been busy contributing to our breaking news coverage. We asked her to write a little bit about herself now that things are thawing out. iReport community, meet Maggie:
Hi! I'm Maggie, and I'm very excited to be joining the iReport Team this spring. I am a graduate student in Concordia University's Master of International Studies program, and I have completed most of my coursework in China. Living in China was an eye-opening experience but not one I would care to relive. It did give me a lot to write about, though.
I guess I could best be described as a romantic hipster. I like being poor and traveling and doing what I want. I'm one of those people who thinks she was born in the wrong decade, which explains my distaste for ebooks, love of record players and unhealthy obsession with “Downton Abbey.” I have my heart set on becoming a journalist and am looking forward to learning all I can from Team iReport.
Say hello to Maggie in the comments below! We’re thrilled to have her as part of the team.
Remember when we asked you for your best travel tips a few months ago? Good news! Ten of them made it into this month's Travel + Leisure as part of the 100 Ways to Travel Better special.
We partnered with Travel + Leisure's editors to pick 10 indispensable travel secrets from among the more than 200 you submitted. From how to pack your suitcase to avoiding lines at popular sights, they're sure to prove critical to your next journey.
To see all 10 iReporter tips, pick up the December issue of Travel + Leisure or have a look at the online gallery. You can also view all 100 Ways to Travel Better, or look back on the last time iReporters were featured in the magazine for 100 Places to Eat Like a Local.
It's with heavy hearts that we share the news that Rick Huffman, a CNN iReport Award recipient and longtime contributor, died on Sunday, in St. Joseph, Michigan. He was 64.
Many of you knew him as Logan248, the ex-military ex-law enforcement iReporter who wasn’t afraid to share his views on the issues of the day, and discussed everything under the sun with his friends in the iReport community.
Back in May, Huffman received an iReport Award for a video he filmed about a year ago, in response to the deadly shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. A longtime NRA member, he cut up his card on camera in tribute to those lost.
Huffman also actively posted commentary during the 2012 presidential campaign, taking part in that year’s iReport Debate.
Unfortunately, Huffman informed us in October that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer and didn’t have much longer to live. According to The Herald-Palladium, he passed away at home on December 1, with his wife by his side.
Team iReport extends our thoughts and condolences to Huffman’s friends and family, and to those of you who knew him in the iReport community. Thank you for all you contributed to iReport, Rick. You'll be greatly missed.