The latest and greatest on CNN iReport, brought to you by Team iReport.
When it comes to Black Friday, you're either part of the club, or you're terrified to join in. iReporters showed us the campouts and the competitions between families that create an intense atmosphere at stores the day after Thanksgiving.
iReporter Marjaani followed a group of shoppers who spent days in tents outside a Best Buy so they could get the best deals on electronics. The shoppers said they had a system set up so they could rotate who was at the campsite. And, they camped right through Thanksgiving. The families in front said they have been competing for the lead spot for the past couple of years, but they know each other and have almost become friends through the competition.
BLAKEINHOU found some families in Houston, Texas, who had been there since the day before Thanksgiving. They were playing dominoes and enjoying life in tents. One couple mused that if they both bought a laptop on sale, they could save about $2600 and the long wait would pay for itself.
The intensity of these so-called "doorbusters" is a turnoff for many, who dread the chaotic aisles and strong competition to bring home the best loot. A few violent incidents have broken out in previous years when shoppers took their enthusiasm a little too far. mamajane told us she dislikes shoppers' behavior on Black Friday and thinks it brings out the worst in humanity. "I have never, ever gone out on this day. People today are too rude and something about this day brings out the worst, in people and their manners." Several iReporters digitally nodded in agreement by posting comments on her post.
But the backlash against Black Friday isn't stopping some people from waiting in relatively harsh conditions for the "experience" of having done it. Asathecomic found people waiting for hours in freezing Minnesota weather just for the experience of being there. One of the people in line claimed he was just there to get batteries, and made no effort to get out of line when Asathecomic offered to bring some for him.
Stores seem to encourage the long waits, or at least enable them. WCNreporter tracked down shoppers who waited all day outside a Best Buy in Virginia Beach, Virginia, so they could get a ticket at 3 a.m. that would let them get into the store at 5 a.m.
KyleHD said he tried Black Friday a while ago and found it overwhelming. Some of his friends wanted to try it for the first time, so he thought he should offer some tips. He showed us how to comb through newspapers for deals and emphasized that you must be prepared to compete against aggressive, experienced shoppers fighting for limited-quantity goods. He also suggested going online to start hunting.
Marjaani agrees, saying she thinks trolling for Internet deals beats joining the throngs at the store. She planned to stick close to home and look online for deals.
What do you think? Is Black Friday out of hand? Let us know if you love it or hate it, and send us photos and video of the frenzy in your town.
Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to express gratitude for life’s blessings. Some iReporters shared stories of giving back to others for the holiday.
Pixel attended a charity turkey giveaway that was full of cheer in Los Angeles, California. Volunteers and people waiting in line danced to music throughout the day. “It was incredible,” she said. “The dancing, joy and gratitude did not stop.”
In Brooklyn, New York, iReport amosamos joined Israeli Consul General Asaf Shariv and World Middleweight Boxing Champion Yuri Foreman to distribute more than 500 turkeys to local churches and families in need.
And in San Diego, California, hundreds of people donated blood at the Chargers Blood Drive . The annual event holds the Guinness World Record for the largest single-day, single-location blood drive. ChrisMorrow was there to document the event and donate blood.
“I thought this was a story that needs to be told,” she said.
If you’re giving back to others this Thanksgiving, we'd love to hear your story . And, from everyone on Team iReport, thank you all for your contributions and amazing stories you’ve shared over the past year. Have a very happy Thanksgiving!
Last year's Mumbai terrorist attacks are one of those stories I’ll never forget. I was working on Thanksgiving, reaching out to iReporters waiting to hear from their loved ones.
The story of Kia Scherr, waiting to hear about her husband and daughter, tugged at my heartstrings. The pair was missing after the assault on the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai, India.
The next morning, I sleepily flicked on CNN and turned pale. Naomi Scherr, 13, and her father, Alan Scherr, 58, were the first two Americans confirmed dead in the attacks.
It’s been a year since the family’s tragic loss, and now I’m checking in with Scherr and her son, Aaron Butler, who told their story on iReport.com.
Butler said he posted the iReport out of “sheer desperation.” He had uploaded Naomi and Alan’s pictures on missing persons sites and was hoping someone would know what happened.
Right away, the iReport community began sending its wishes to the family. “It was that sense of community. I never really felt that before, that outpouring of compassion from complete strangers,” he said.
Even as the family heard the bad news, the comfort they received from iReporters all over the world helped them find solace, Scherr said.
“People’s natural response was to send their love, support and prayers,” she said. “They all sent their love and really heartfelt messages of condolence. I was so moved by all of this.”
Scherr had lived a reclusive life of meditation in at a sanctuary in Synchronicity, Virginia. But the response opened her to the outside world, she said.
The loving messages from iReport inspired her to co-found One Life Alliance , along with Master Charles Cannon, the spiritual leader of the Synchronicity Foundation. The goal of the nonprofit is to honor the sacredness and oneness of life, she said.
A collaborative art project honoring Naomi came about via One Life Alliance.
Linda Ragsdale, a children’s book illustrator, was with Naomi and Alan during the hotel attack. She had promised Naomi she’d teach her how to draw a dragon the night before.
In Naomi’s honor, Ragsdale and others created the Peace Dragon Project, a Web site showcasing artwork of peace dragons from child artists worldwide. Its idea is to teach children that there are other choices beyond the violence that marked the Mumbai attacks. “You can be powerful and peaceful at the same time,” Scherr said of the peace dragons.
Striving toward a world of peace and love keeps Scherr going each day, but it doesn’t replace the hole in her heart.
“I’m not denying the grief and the loss that is a daily thing, but I am excited by the possibility of spreading a positive message,” Scherr said.
This morning we added a great new feature to CNN iReport that makes submitting iReports from your mobile device much easier than before. On the iReport profile page you will see the new "Mobile upload" option. This option takes you to a page that lets you customize a personal email address for uploading content to CNN iReport. Content sent to your personal iReport upload address will automatically appear under your screen name without having to go through the “claim this story” process.
You can change your pin at any time to make sure you are the only one who can upload content to your account. We encourage all iReporters to store their personal upload address in their phone to make catching those incredible news events quick and easy. And of course for all of you out there with an iPhone or iPod Touch you will definitely want to download the CNN iReport application!
Join the iReport team today to talk about any questions, comments or concerns you may have today at 3 p.m. ET.
We’ve had quite a week with President Obama answering an iReporter’s question, adriana71’s behind-the-scenes look at NASA, yadray’s unique “bubble” project, and a heartwarming story about one neighborhood giving a child with leukemia an early Christmas.
We look forward to talking with all of you today. Hope to see you there!
Team iReport celebrates our fifth birthday in August 2011!
There are lots of folks at CNN who help make iReport tick (in addition to our awesome community, of course). Here are some quick introductions to a few of the folks you're most likely to encounter here:
Katie Hawkins-Gaar Hi! I run the iReport team here at CNN, which means I oversee our editorial and developmental priorities, coordinate with colleagues across CNN, figure out iReport's crazy bright future, and lots of exciting stuff in between. I love to hear iReporters’ stories and dream up new and interesting ways to share them with the world. If you have an iReport project idea, let me know! I’m all ears.
David Williams I am the community manager at CNN iReport. I've been with CNN for 15 years. I want your experience here at CNN iReport to be as good as it can be, so if you have a problem or suggestions for improving the site, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christina Zdanowicz Hey, I'm Christina, the CNN iReport news producer. I lead our daily news operations and make sure iReport is represented in the top stories. From covering breaking news to creating newsy assignments, you can say I’m a newshound. When I'm not in iReportland, you'll see me donning red sneakers, toting a camera in hand.
Daphne Sashin I serve as the bridge between the iReport community and CNN’s television networks. It’s my job to work with producers at CNN, CNN International, CNN en Espanol and HLN to find new and creative ways to showcase your stories.
Rachel Rodriguez Hi, I'm Rachel. Being a CNN iReport writer/producer means I get to write stories, build beautiful interactive features, and even find the occasional bit of fame and fortune by showing off your iReports on TV. Oh, and go on Facebook and watch funny iReport videos at work. When I'm not telling your stories, you can find me leading weekly CNN yoga (yes, really).
Henry Hanks Hi, I'm Henry, a CNN iReport writer/producer. I talk to iReporters every day. If your iReport is compelling and/or newsworthy, you may hear from me soon.
Jareen Imam Greetings! My name is Jareen and I am an associate producer with CNN iReport. Being an AP with iReport means I have the amazing opportunity to meet and chat with iReporters from around the world. Besides vetting iReports and creating stories, I am also a creative writer and I do standup comedy.
Nicole Saidi Hi, my name is Nicole, and I work with comments on CNN.com. You could say that I wear a lot of hats around here, both literally and figuratively. I'm always on the hunt for stories on our site that are generating a lot of buzz. Got an awesome idea? Talk to me. Let's make it happen.
Germain Perez I'm Germain, an associate producer with Team iReport. I research community trends to help us grow and better our service, and think of cool ways to tell your amazing stories. Got an idea on how to make iReport cooler? Send me a PM!
April Andrews Hey y'all! I’m a publicist and the senior social media strategist for CNN Worldwide Public Relations. I consider myself super lucky because I have the pleasure of leading the publicity efforts for CNN iReport and occassionally connecting with some of you! In addition to iReport, I'm also responsible for developing and executing social media strategies across platforms for all of CNN’s networks. I love social media so feel free to send me an '@' to @aprilCNNPR on Twitter anytime. I'd love to exchange tweets with you!
Nnedike Ugoji Hi I’m Nnedike, your marketing lead for CNN iReport. It’s my job to help build awareness around iReport, and let people know about all of the ways they can participate. I also help to spread the word about iReport’s exciting assignments, interactives, new programs and features.
Sophia Voychehovski Hello, iReporters! I am a senior user experience designer here at CNN.com. I love making technology work better for human beings, and I am excited to make CNN.com and iReport a better place for you. Watch out for iReports from me that highlight some user experience issues and solutions that need your feedback.
Kyle Rogers I'm a senior software developer on the CNN iReport technical team. My job is turning the visions of our designers and producers into reality, enabling you to share your awesome iReports with the world. When not behind a computer, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, meeting new people, hiking and biking, and watching an occasional rocket launch.
Raja Periyasamy Hello, I'm Raja and I work as a senior developer for iReport. If you find anything broken on iReport, yell at me and I can fix; otherwise, I'll continue building this wonderful site so that you will have a better experience, as always. If I'm not in front of my computer, I'll be in front of TV for a funny movie or at a bowling alley.
Christian Oliver I'm the technophilic Business Manager from the Strategy group that is always trying to come up with interesting opportunities to help make iReport grow, build new features and reach a larger audience. I may freak out if I'm offline but can always compensate by putting on my running shoes. Have worked with online journalism since 1995. Have tried lots of things, many of them once, but I'm always willing to try something new, specially in music. Generally afraid of resisting to change. Believe that if I'm not failing, I'm playing it too safe.
Eric Hernandez Hello iReporters. My name is Eric Hernandez, I manage the group that works with you if you experience issues accessing any parts of the site or run into any trouble uploading data. I graduated from Florida State University, and have been with CNN for about seven years.
Kyle Hale Hello fellow iReporters! My name is Kyle and I help handle your technical issues here at iReport. Whatever your problem is, be it your submissions aren't showing up, you are having upload problems, you've spilt coffee on your brand new computer -- I'm here to help! I want you, the iReporter, to know that any question is a good question and I'll be happy to walk you through any problems you are having with iReport. So hurry up and upload some awesome photos and videos!
Zach Conrad I help with iReporter requests and technical support. In other words, if you're having trouble with uploading or maybe viewing videos, I do my best to provide assistance. I graduated from Georgia State University and have been with CNN for eight years.
"You'd think it would be one big sonic boom," adriana71 said of witnessing the space shuttle Atlantis launch from three miles away. "Instead, it almost feels like it travels across the ocean, and you feel the boom right in the middle of your chest."
How did she get to see a launch from that close? When NASA announced to their Twitter followers that they would be holding the first-ever "Tweetup" at Cape Canaveral, Florida, she made sure that she promptly signed up for it when the opportunity arose. After all, only 100 people would be allowed to attend this event, a chance for them to meet each other as well as representatives from NASA.
Soon, she was notified of her acceptance, and this past Sunday morning she reported to the Kennedy Space Center to meet with officials from NASA, who explained to the group everything that went into getting a shuttle into orbit.
Later that day, the group got a full tour, getting a sense of the history there, not to mention an up-close glimpse of Atlantis one day before launch. "That was amazing because the only people who get to see it that close up are the VIPs," she said.
The next day, it was time for the big show. The 100 lucky NASA fans had their own "twent," three miles away from the shuttle, where the press usually reports on launches. adriana71 had seen a shuttle blast off before, but this one was really special. "When you're three miles away, it's just the brightest light ever," she said. "Just think of a million Roman candles lit up at once."
That experience alone made the event unforgettable, said adriana71. She felt really grateful to NASA's staff for hosting the Tweetup. "These guys were phenomenal."
TIME CHANGE ALERT: We need to start a few minutes late today because of a scheduling conflict
Please join us here at 3:10 p.m. ET for our weekly roundtable discussion. I know we've got a lot to talk about, from awesome iReport stories on CNN to new solicitations and questions about the ibastadobbs iReports.
Talk to you then.
ohemming wanted to know whether Colicchio decides to eliminate chefs based on that week’s challenge or the entirety of their work, as well as which female fellow judge was “hotter in person.” sas62003 asked if Colicchio stays in touch with past contestants. ruralgourmet wanted to find out about Colicchio’s favorite vegetable, while dwisniewski asked how many recipes he has memorized.
Find out how Colicchio answered their questions here. Thanks to everyone who asked a question!
On the 30th anniversary of the Iran hostage crisis, turmoil once again rages from within the country. Protesters have taken to the streets to speak out against their government. We received several iReports showing images from Iran, including photos showing scenes of protests that took place in the capital city of Tehran.
The photographer said hundreds of people had gathered near a train station. The images show security forces and burning objects. Since a series of demonstrations began in June, citizen journalism has been perhaps the primary way information has been shared from inside Iran.
Join us in our blog today at 3 p.m. ET for our weekly roundtable discussion. We are looking forward to talking to you.
We'll open comments on this blog post at 3 p.m. so you can leave your questions and comments and then members of Team iReport will respond.
We'll talk to you at 3 p.m. ET.
You may have problems logging in to CNN iReport this morning. Our technical team is on the issue and hopes to have the problem fixed shortly.
In the meantime, if you spot breaking news, please send it to email@example.com . We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience!
UPDATE: Our developers have identified the problem and login should be restored. If you encounter any other technical problems, please us know at firstname.lastname@example.org . Thanks!
The USS New York steamed into New York Harbor Monday and iReporters were there to document its arrival. The 25,000-ton ship is partially made of seven and a half tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center.
Watching the ship was especially meaningful for New York iReporters MSetoPhoto , sergeinyc and sjunat55 , who all had personal connections to the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001. MSetoPhoto and sjunat55 lost friends in the attack and sergeinyc was working in the towers at the time.
Their photos capture the bittersweet emotion of the momentous occasion. Did you watch the ship's arrival? Share your photos and video and see other great submissions.