The latest and greatest on CNN iReport, brought to you by Team iReport.
Team iReport just learned that CNN.com has won the Edward R. Murrow Award for best broadcast-affiliated website. That's a huge honor, but we're even more thilled with what the judges had to say:
“This is what a news Web site should be. Depth of content. Ease of navigation. User-generated content made easy, allowing news consumers to participate in the process. Lots of interactivity. This site warrants a home page landing because of the volume of information it provides.”
In other words, iReporters rock!
We think it's pretty cool that your contributions to CNN's newsgathering were specifically referenced by the judges handing out one of electronic journalism's highest honors.
Just another example of how your amazing iReports continue to make CNN.com a great place to get and interact with the news. So hats off to you, iReporters, and thank you for being such a significant part of CNN.
iReport is fast filling up with sweet tributes and memories of Michael Jackson as a pop icon. We're hearing tales from around the world of white-gloved childhoods, first records and never-forget concerts. It's late, but we can't end the night without a quick list of a few of our favorite conversations this evening:
Nicole: Diana Dawn DiAngelo of Sonoma, California, got the chance to go to the annual Lucasfilm Picnic at Skywalker Ranch with her sister in the mid-1980s, which is pretty awesome by itself because George Lucas would attend. But Michael Jackson was also there because of the Captain EO 3-D film at Disneyland. She got to gush over him as he signed an autograph in her Lucasfilm Yearbook. Later, she was charmed by the fact that he said hello to her again while riding around on a fire truck.
Tyson: Great chats tonight with Rany Ibrahim from Novia Scotia, who remembers doing the moon walk with his friends growing up in Egypt and Rajiim Gross from Kentucky, who says he was the first kid in school to wear the red "Beat It" jacket, and once wrote Michael Jackson asking his hero to play his parent's wedding anniversary, and got a response from Michael wishing his mom and dad congratulations.
Lila: Oh boy. I just got off the phone with Jeffrey Wentworth Stevens, who shared these completely adorable photos of his 9-year-old, completely Michael Jackson-obsessed self with a glitter glove birthday cake. It was the same year he'd won a pair of tickets to see Jackson at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado, and cried his way through the concert. Awww.
Want more? See it all and post your own right here.
Hearing personal stories from people who have returned from Iran, like iReporter tehrooni , provides valuable insight into what's going on in a country with heavily restricted communication.
She told us about the surreal atmosphere of walking down the street and seeing armed guards with batons who would break up a group with more than five people. She spoke of the fear in people's hearts and an incident of teargassing that sent her fleeing with her grandmother. tehrooni's grandmother fell down, and a man nearby came to help her up. "It was really a surreal moment," she said. "Everyone was running away, coughing. [The man] told my grandmother it's okay, reassuring all of us it's going to be over soon"
We're monitoring the situation at CNN's Iran Desk, and iReporters are helping us piece together the puzzle. What do you think about what's going on? Comment below and share your views, or put yourself on video and send us an iReport .
Thanks for your patience during this morning's site maintenance.
One quick announcement: We're postponing today's roundtable discussion and will resume next Thursday right here on the iReport blog. We hope to see you there!
'Til then, happy iReporting!
iReport.com will be offline for about 20 minutes Thursday morning while we do some work under the covers. We’ll start at 8 a.m. ET. Thanks for your patience! If you have a story during the outage that just can’t wait, please email it to iReport@cnn.com.
“One of my first clear memories was my fifth birthday,” said iReporter smartens. “My parents gave me my first Transformer, the original Optimus Prime. Apparently my mom went to the store and saw that everyone in the checkout line was carrying the same toy so she just followed suit.” So began a lifelong infatuation with the “Transformers”, who were all the rage 25 years ago, and are rolling into theatres this week with the big budget movie sequel “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”. smartens now has over 300 of the toys worth thousands of dollars, and he’s not the only one with an affinity for them.
Growing up in the Philippines during the height of “Transformers” mania in the 1980s, Megatron (seen in the photo with non-"Transformer" Voltron) always wanted to collect these toys but never had a chance. Ever since graduating from college, however, he made it his mission to collect all of the original toys, spending every paycheck he can on them. “It is a very expensive hobby and my collection value is around $10,000,” he said. “I keep all my toys sealed in plastic and will never sell them unless it's a life or death situation, which in that case I must be buried with the toys."
openroad12 wasn’t even born when the Transformers first came out but he has been collecting them for eight years. Now at age 14, while many of his peers only know the two recent movies, Autobots and Decepticons decorate an entire shelf in his bedroom.
brianhharris didn't start his collection right away, but his first toys were saved by his mother from the '80s. He now has nearly 400 figures altogether. “As of right now my wife and I have no children but she did ask me once, ‘What are you going to do if our kids want to play with these things?’” he said. “The reply was simple, ‘This is why I am buying one to open and one to keep in the box.’"
Do you collect toy robots or other action figures as well? Share your collection with the iReport community!
The new iPhone 3GS was released Friday to much hype and anticipation. iReporters were among the first to get their hands on one, and they shared early reviews with the iReport.com community just hours after purchasing the sleek smartphone. Some of them even tried out iReporting with their iPhone for the first time. Vincent Yau of Knoxville, Tennessee, called himself a “BlackBerry man” but was pretty impressed by the new iPhone – the first one he owned. Check out his video above.
Also giving his new iPhone a whirl on video was David Seaman of New York, who said he would rate it an eight out of 10 and called it an “iReporter’s dream come true”.
Jose Gout was one of the earliest to get the new iPhone on Friday morning, and posted the very first iReport using it that afternoon. He returned to see the lines dissipate that day, but swell up again on Saturday.
Melissa Fazli spoke to excited customers waiting in line for the new iPhone Friday at a mall in Brea, California. Several BlackBerry owners were there ready to make the switch. Later, Fazli also posted an iReport using her new iPhone for the first time. Do you own the new iPhone? Tell us what you think about it as well on iReport.com!
Cross-posted at CNN.com's SciTechBlog.
I heard countless compelling stories from iReporters in Iran and around the world today, but this poignant account from PoyanMahsa stood out among the rest.
Poyan is an Iranian expatriate living outside Rotterdam, Holland. His wife Mahsa lives in Tehran, Iran. The couple keeps in touch through phone calls and e-mails, and Poyan said he is "200 percent" worried about Mahsa as the unrest in Iran rages on.
Despite his concern, though, Poyan acknowledges that he cannot ask Mahsa to stay away from the protests of the country's disputed election. "I cannot tell her not to go, because this is our future," he said. "This is our children's future."
Poyan added that if he was in Iran, he'd be "right out there with her."
Correction: This post originally referred to the couple as engaged. They married in April. Poyan continues to keep close watch on the news out of Iran.
We're watching a digital and social revolution unfold before our eyes, and iReport.com is part of that story.
The restrictive media crackdown in Iran following the country's disputed presidential election means less information can be shared through traditional media outlets. Never before have we relied so much on social media and the Internet to tell such a complex story.
Courageous citizens of Iran continue to post images and videos despite challenging circumstances. Frightening images of heavy damage at a University of Tehran dormitory came to us courtesy of haditehran . We saw daily protest updates from iReporters like digitalnegar and AmirAA , and when Mir Hossein Moussavi made a trip through the crowded throngs gathered in Tehran on Thursday, June 18, omidox showed us a close-up view of the former presidential candidate.
You can see rivers of people walking through the streets of cities in Iran that you wouldn't have otherwise seen. Longtime iReport.com users can look around them and see newfound fellow community members from the Middle East. Their passion for their country's future is palpable.
"It was such a joy to see all these young people in the streets," said iReporter shishimil , who voted in the Iranian election and flew back to the Dallas, Texas, the next day as he had previously scheduled to do. He received photos from his brother in Iran and shared his story with iReport.
Talented young photographer Shervingz said his parents indicated this was the biggest event in Iran since the country's revolution in 1979.
These are just some of the many examples of stories from real people who are witnessing changes in their country. What do you think about social media's effects on the situation in Iran? How do you feel about what's happening, and do you have a story of your own? Comment below and share your views here on iReport.com.
The email subject line screamed in all caps, "POVERTY IN AFRICA."
iReporter Giyen said she thought it was a phishing scheme designed to bilk her out of big bucks and her bank account number. But she opened it "on a fluke" and was stunned by what she found.
A group of middle school students reached out to Giyen, hoping she could use her blogging experience to help spread the word about the charity Heifer International. Giyen said the girls' passion and knowledge were immediately evident. "Here are these girls who found something that called to them," she said. Giyen was so impressed she made the road trip from Seattle to Bellingham, Washington, to meet Quinn Rathkamp and Kelsey Wilson.
Giyen interviewed the girls on camera and said they were very smart and exuberant about their project. Wilson explained succinctly how Heifer International takes a different approach to helping families in poverty, by providing them with livestock instead of money. Rathkamp added, "The conditions they are living in, like the slums and villages and the war and the genocide and everything, it's way worse that what we can imagine here."
Giyen posted the video on iReport.com as well as her personal blog, baconismyenemy.com . She hoped the Internet community would help pass the word about the charity and "these remarkable girls." And she wanted Rathkamp and Wilson to "see that their words have power and even at their age they to affect change."
"Small things," Giyen said, "can actually reap big rewards."
We're looking forward to talking to all of you at this week's iReport roundtable. It's been an amazing few days, and we're so excited and proud of what's been going on in our community.
We've talked to dozens of people in Iran, who have taken cameras, cell phones and video cameras into the streets to document the post-election coverage. Their work has been an incredibly important part of CNN's coverage of this story.
It's also a lesson to all citizen journalists. These men and women are telling their story, despite intense interference from the government. Your stories may not be that dramatic (in fact, we hope that none of you have to go through anything like that), but if you care about an issue, you can bet that other people will too.
Here are some more highlights from the week:
* We were thrilled by the response when we asked transgendered men and women to share their experiences. The stories were touching and most of the comments were thoughtful, respectful and mature. It's a tribute to you that people are comfortable talking about such personal issues. Thank you.
* iReporters MarieSager and Pixel sent photos and videos of the Los Angeles Lakers' victory celebrations and defmatnyc shared the scene outside the Staples Center after the Lakers won the NBA championship.
We'll open comments at 2:30 p.m. ET.
It's probably impossible for most of us to imagine what it's like to be in Iran right now. Friday's election sparked riots and protests that are still going on in the streets of Tehran. And it's difficult to even get images of the situation. Internet access is limited in Iran; Web sites have been blocked, and documenters intimidated. Nevertheless, a few iReporters were able to send us amazing footage that gives us a firsthand look at what's going on in Tehran.
For example, we received this video from iReporter BloodyVote. BloodyVote -- we're not using our Iranian iReporters' real names to make sure they're kept safe -- says the truck that was driving through the crowd dumped whatever it was carrying all over the street when the crowd prompted him with cheers. Later in the video, the crowd is chanting things like "Ahmadinejad, shame on you" and "let go of the country."
And how were iReporters like BloodyVote able to get this amazing footage to us, you may ask? It wasn't easy. Some iReporters were able to upload directly to the site, but others had to e-mail their videos and photos to friends in other countries who uploaded for them. But even after the videos were uploaded, they still had to go through our rigorous vetting process before we could approve them for use on CNN, and that was a little more difficult than usual.
Since many iReporters had friends upload their videos, it was hard to get in touch with them directly. Others couldn't make phone calls, or didn't want to because they were afraid for their safety.
But in the end, most of these iReporters were able to tell us the stories behind their footage through e-mail. We enlisted our brilliant international producers and correspondents to confirm events (and translate, in some cases), and finally these amazing photos and video made it to CNN.
Another incredible video comes to us from digitalnegar, who was able to upload directly to iReport.com. He shot this today, and he was able to shoot it from higher up, so you can really get a sense of the size of the crowd that's filling the streets of Tehran.
And finally, Neda sent the dramatic photos above of protesters clashing with police in Tehran on Saturday. You'll notice that many of the protesters are wearing sunglasses and masks or veils over their faces. This is to prevent the Iranian government from knowing who they are. Even some protesters in other countries who may someday return to Iran took the same precautions.
Many thanks to our iReporters in Iran for providing an unmatchable view of this story, and please remember to stay safe.
The stars' candid responses made the video a smashing success – it earned more than 21,000 views on iReport. ChrisMorrow also interviewed a motley crew of other stars, asking them about their embarrassing tastes in music, TV shows and junk food.
While ChrisMorrow is a veteran iReporter, she appreciated hearing some feedback. Placing the best material at the beginning of video and editing to isolate the best sound bites would have made for a more powerful, organized package. Hall and Oates’ fame, along with their witty comment about being “very pure people” who don’t Twitter, would have made for an attention-grabbing start.
One more tip: Record better quality audio with a microphone. When filming at crowded events, a microphone would cut out the extraneous noises. ChrisMorrow told me that she’s been thinking of purchasing a wireless mic, but her camera isn’t compatible. A newer camera and mic would be an investment for the future.
Keep up the great interviews and video work, Chris! See you later with more tips.
We're looking forward to talking to everyone at today's iReport roundtable. It's been a great day, so far, at iReport.com and we've gotten some very exciting stories:
* visitingiran shared amazing photos of the huge crowds of people rallying in Tehran, Iran, ahead of the country's election. More than 130,000 people have already looked at her photos.
* New Zealand author wehavent sent a video of American and Canadian tourists trying to use kiwi slang. The results were pretty funny.
* Closer to home (but just barely) scottt79 shared his 5,000 mile Missouri-to-Alaska journey that ended with a surprise wedding proposal. If that wasn't exciting enough, the entire adventure was fueled by waste vegetable oil.
We'll open comments at 2:30 p.m. ET. I can't wait to hear your ideas for what we can do during these roundtable talks.
English-language presidential campaign posters proclaiming "change" and political demonstrations in the center of Iran's capital city seem to channel the atmosphere of the 2008 U.S. presidential election. We're seeing this unique perspective from iReporter visitingiran , who is helping his wife upload photos and videos she is taking on the streets of Tehran ahead of Iran's June 12 presidential election.
visitingiran said the race has evoked strong emotions among those supporting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his challenger, Mir Hossein Moussavi.
"The more educated and the youth are saying they are very, very unhappy with the past four years in terms of a lack of strategy in how to run the country and how to build infrastructure," said visitingiran, who said he supports Mousavi and will vote for him at a polling place in the United States.
The passion on each side seems to be palpable. Some of the people even formed a human chain . We also saw more photos from iReporters like Amirnews , who photographed some green-clad Moussavi supporters protesting outside a polling center north of Tehran.
What do you think about the election and its implications? Comment below to let us know what this event means to you, and share your thoughts on video.
Please join us tomorrow for our weekly iReport roundtable discussion. It's your chance to talk to Team iReport about what's going on in the community.
I want to ask everyone to do a little bit of homework before the meeting, but I promise it's really easy.
Just invite your friends in the community to check the roundtable out, so we can get to know them too.
I'd also like you to think about what sort of things you'd like to do with this time. These meetings are a great opportunity and we want to make the most of them.
We look forward to talking to you.
As debates over health care reform heat up on Capitol Hill, a similar conversation is taking place on iReport.com.
We asked iReporters for their solutions to America's health care system and whether universal health care is the answer. Two of the most interesting responses were from iReporters living in countries that have universal health care systems.
sallyinparis, an American in France, and PunjabiPower, who lives in Canada, have had markedly different experiences with the health care systems in the countries where they live. Click on the videos above for their views.
What do you think? Is universal health care the answer or should the U.S. government try a different approach? Share your opinions in the comments field below, and be sure to check out what other iReporters had to say.
Upon hearing the news of his passing on Thursday, many iReporters remembered David Carradine, star of the popular “Kung Fu” television series and known as Bill in “Kill Bill”, and how he touched their lives.
In some cases, iReporters shared their personal experiences with Carradine. lyonrocker performed as a drummer in a band with Carradine. He played at lyonrocker’s hometown of Dolgeville, New York a few years ago, something he calls a true honor. "The greatest thing David ever said to me, was that 'I finally get to hear my music like I imagined it,” he said.
TheDimmitt shared another story from his radio days with the iReport community, about an interview with Carradine several years ago. He learned how closely connected Carradine was with his character on “Kung Fu”, even later in life. The Dimmitt called it “an experience I will never forget."
BarbRad says that she was “devastated” and cried when she first learned of Carradine’s death. She was a devoted viewer of “Kung Fu”, as well as his documentaries on the History Channel. “I actually feel like a gap has left in my life,” she said.
If David Carradine meant something to you as well, let the iReport.com community know here.
Thanks to all who participated in this week's roundtable. We'll talk to you next week.
For those who missed it, I want to share some great news:
* Richard Feindel won the Photographer Short Form Emmy last weekend from the Boston/New England Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Congratulations Richard!
* dpkronmiller has finished the second season of his super-low-budget Web series "and Boris". You can see how he did it here on iReport and watch full episodes on the show’s Web site (http://www.andboris.com/). If you like action-adventure spy comedies, I think you'll enjoy it.
I also want to let everyone know about a cool experiment KCRep has cooked up. She threw her own iReport photo challenge and invited the community to identify this kaleidoscope photo and Elvis and Disneyland trivia contests. It's a lot of fun, and a creative use of the site.
Katie's already blogged about some of the great stories we've gotten today, but we know that's just the tip of the iceberg. So, if you've seen something amazing or have been inspired by other iReporters' work, let us know so the rest of the community can check it out.
The enthusiasm among the iReport Team today is electric. That's because we've received dozens of incredible iReport submissions overnight and this morning. Check out some of the highlights:
natashabisho shot up-close and powerful photographs of Lisa Ling and other attendees at a vigil for Ling's sister in Santa Monica, California, last night.
* arundhatib witnessed a jaw-dropping high wire act in Maryport, England, this weekend.
* First-time iReporter Haaris shared his thoughts on Obama's speech on American-Muslim relations and sparked a passionate debate in the comments field.
* JesseBearden made a clever time lapse video as he built a Tetris-inspired chair. The video game celebrates its 25th anniversary this month.
This varied collection of iReports from around the world is further proof that news can happen anywhere. What's happening near you? Share your photos and video – we love days like these!
Hey there, photo clubbers! A couple weeks ago, we asked you to get your hands on a fancy lens and to play around with fisheye photography. This type of lens distorts anything that isn’t in the center of the image. The result is a beautiful, powerful distortion.
frobozzz sent in an image of a ghoulish ringmaster, demonstrating how a fisheye treatment can enhance the photo. DKolbay’s vintage Volkswagen bug was at the other end of the spectrum, proving that this type of photography can be subtle. And as JoyfulGypsy showed us, who can resist a little boy playing pattycake?
Thanks for sending in all these fun fisheye photos. Be sure to check out the next photo challenge: Before and After .
This past weekend, Oyeah had the opportunity to interview former heavyweight champion Buster Douglas. Tony Reynolds, co-author of Douglas’ new cookbook, reached out to Oyeah after seeing his iReports. Douglas spoke candidly about his struggle with diabetes in recent years.
Congratulations to Oyeah on this great recognition, and be sure to check out the interview above!
In a dramatic rescue Sunday in Lake Ridge, Virginia, police rescued two men hanging on on the edge of a dam, trying not to be swept under. BBlake57, who lives nearby, was on the scene and took out his camera. You can see a helicopter lowering a rope to rescue the men in his remarkable video, some of the best footage that CNN had of the incident.