The latest and greatest on CNN iReport, brought to you by Team iReport.
Dax Locke, whom we profiled in a CNN.com story earlier this month, died this morning after a long struggle with acute myeloid leukemia. Doctors said he had only weeks to live, but the 2-year-old surpassed all odds and lived through Christmas.
Dax's story has captivated many, inspiring neighbors and strangers around the world to decorate their homes in hopes of giving the family some support in a difficult time.
We saw caring messages, photos and video from iReporters. gypsydayne shared photos and video of her decorated neighborhood and brought visibility to Dax's cause. Another iReporter, shelz91 , showed the sign she put up in her yard as a tribute. Dax’s story, in turn, brought awareness of childhood illness and inspired numerous people to donate money to charity.
All of these efforts were done to show silent support for a family trying to create a peaceful, happy holiday for their son so that his last days would be filled with joy and comfort. It’s been absolutely inspiring to watch. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.
His mother wrote this message on Dax's journal this morning:
Dax Ryan Locke- 6-26-2007 to 12-30-2009. His heart stopped at 2:15AM.
He touched so many lives in such a short time. He was a fighter until the end. He will be remembered forever in the hearts of all that loved him ...
This week the iReport team summed up our favorite iReport moments of 2009. (Read the post here. ) But 2009 was such an incredible year for iReport and citizen journalism, I found it impossible to limit myself to just one. So in the spirit of year-end lists all over the interwebs, here's my personal roundup of favorite iReport moments in the last 365 days, in roughly chronological order:
1. Inauguration Day
We totally expected photos to flood in from the throngs of camera-wielding spectators braving the cold on the National Mall. (We even stitched many of them together in a very cool Photosynth of the day in pictures.) What we didn't expect is that just as many photos would come in of people all over the world posing in front of their living room TVs, as Barack Obama took the oath of office on CNN.
2. Iran election protests
The violence following Iran's presidential election in June was likely the story of the year, and it was brought to the rest of the world mostly by very brave men and women who took cameras into the middle of often dangerous situations, and used sites like iReport to share their footage with the world .
3. Michael Jackson memory book
After Michael Jackson died, iReport filled up fast with sweet and rare snapshots of the King of Pop and the kids he met all over the world, and we built an interactive memory book out of the most interesting stories. What I love about it is that, first, the stories and pictures are dynamite, and second, it's the kind of personal, intimate, pop culture reporting that you really only see here on iReport.
4. Discovering 'balloon boy' dad was an iReporter
Yep. And I totally interviewed him and his wife in 2008 after they posted a scary/fascinating video of a family storm-chasing adventure.
5. Moving into CNN.com
Hands down my favorite moment of the year was around 6 a.m. on Saturday, October 24, bleary eyed and fairly trembling with excitement we officially made iReport part of CNN.com. We threw off our blue banner and joined the world's best site for news and information. It felt like a homecoming , and it's only the beginning. Here's to a chart-topping, world-changing 2010.
Anti-government protests in Iran heated up over the weekend with opposition supporters clashing with police, and we were once again flooded with iReports from the scene. At least eight people have been reportedly been killed and reformist websites say government forces have arrested several prominent activists.
CNN reporter Reza Sayah has seen first hand what can happen – he covered the protests in Tehran following the elections last summer.
What do you want to know about this tense situation? Reza is here today with answers. Submit your questions about the anti-government protests below.
UPDATE: Thanks for the great comments! Watch Reza answer your questions on CNN.com.
It’s been an amazing year for CNN iReport: iReporters have shared so many incredible stories and iReport officially became a part of CNN.com. So we’d like to stop and remember some of the most compelling iReport stories of 2009.
lila: The year in iReport got off to a huge start when millions of people descended on the National Mall in Washington to watch President Obama’s inauguration. There were undoubtedly as many cameras there as people, and images of chilly and excited onlookers filled up iReport all day long. We stitched hundreds of them together in a very cool Photosynth of the day in pictures. My favorite iReports, though, were all the images we didn’t expect – not just from people on the Mall, but from iReporters all over the world who posed in front of their living room TVs as Obama took the oath of office live on CNN. One more reminder that if you build it, they will invent a new way to use it.
tyson: Undoubtedly, one of biggest stories of 2009 was the chaos that followed the Iranian elections this summer as thousands of defiant protesters swept into the streets and clashed with police. One iReport stands out vividly – a series of images that were taken just two days before the election as tens of thousands of supporters of pro-reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi gathered at Tehran’s iconic Azadi “Freedom” Monument. These images would ultimately signal the start of a social media avalanche that documented the violent struggle for reform in Iran and captivate the world for months to come.
katie: One of my favorite moments of 2009 is one of the simplest – in honor of Sesame Street’s 40th anniversary, we asked iReporters to share a video tribute to a letter of the alphabet. Asathecomic chose the letter ‘N,’ and recorded a funny and sweet video with his son, Asa Jr. The style is spot-on Sesame Street, and watching little Asa yell “No!” still makes me giggle every time. His video was one of many that we featured in this video alphabet.
hhanks: EricInParis shared stunning photos of the moments after he and 154 passengers were rescued from the plane which crashed in the Hudson River back in January. Then in May, he shared an update video giving his first impressions upon receiving his lost luggage.
zdan: Back in April, we launched the iReport Photo Club and one of the first photo essays we received took my breath away. iReporter Shahsazzad spent months in his town of Dhaka, Bangladesh, capturing reflections in water. He strived to show reflections of truth. Shahsazzad explained that reflections in the water, much like those in a mirror, don’t lie. He struggled with heat and monsoons as he tried to get the perfect shots, but he never gave up.
davidw: First of all, it's really hard (if not impossible) to point to my favorite iReport of the year. We've got so many talented iReporters who shared creative, powerful and personal stories. So instead of picking a favorite, I want to highlight PhilHansen's unique use of art to tell the stories of the day. He created a portrait of himself with photos of his nipples to draw attention to Facebook's policy of removing photos that showed nipples – including pictures of breastfeeding women. A few days later, he followed up with a story on how the popular social network reacted when he posted the photo on the site.
nsaidi: This was probably one of seeitnow's finest productions as he investigated an "Alice in Wonderland" festival in Vancouver, British Columbia, in July. The superstar iReporter has covered everything from the local economy to snakes in the heart of Central America, but for this piece, he perfectly captured the twisted essence of the surrealist children's book. Participants were going after a record number of Alices in one place, but the March Hare and other key players were also on hand for the festivities. Excellent footage, great natural sound and tight editing with strong dialogue made this one of my favorites from the year.
rachel8: I loved hearing the story of the 10-year-old who played an important role in Apollo 11 . We celebrated the 40th anniversary of putting a man on the moon in July, and gforce59 submitted an iReport explaining how, as a kid, he "saved the mission" as Apollo 11 hurtled back towards Earth. An antenna at a NASA tracking station failed, and he was the only one with arms small enough to repair it. gforce59 sent his firsthand account of what happened, shared photos of his family with Neil Armstrong -- who gave him a nice thank-you note after the mission landed safely – and even a "money shot" of himself fixing the antenna .
Thanks to every iReporter who sent his or her stories in 2009, and here’s to an even bigger and better 2010!
Please join us here in our blog for our weekly CNN iReport roundtable discussion.
This will be our last meeting of the year, so we want to start off by thanking everyone for making CNN iReport such a vibrant community. It's been a great year and we couldn't be prouder of everything we've accomplished together.
Since it is the end of the year, we want to invite you to participate in a really cool assignment: 365 days in 30 seconds.
Thank you again for everything and we're excited to see what next year will bring.
We'll open comments at 3 p.m. ET. Hope to talk to you then.
Team iReport had a very special visitor last Wednesday: globe-trotting iReporter Neal Moore. He has lived in Taiwan, South Africa, Namibia and Thailand, among other places, but this time he came back to the U.S. for one of the biggest journeys of his life: a four-and-a-half month canoe trip down the Mississippi River from Lake Itasca, Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana, on a mission to iReport the positive stories he found along the way. Fresh from this extraordinary trip, Moore had a lot to tell us about this uplifting experience.
Being a Mark Twain fan, he said he will never forget having the rare opportunity to spend the night in Twain’s boyhood home. But one highlight of his trip took him by complete surprise: his visit to the Louisiana State Penitentiary, surrounded on all sides by the mighty Mississippi. He was impressed by what he saw as the prisoners' efforts at true rehabilitation.
“It was sort of life-changing to go in there and to meet people who are in prison like this who are stepping up and accomplishing something through communication,” he said.
Regardless of where he went, Moore left feeling more positive about his home country than ever before. “From the top of the river down, I would find communities who are rallying around a central cause or theme, putting their best foot forward,” he told me, “whether it be Mark Twain, literacy, or fighting cancer.”
Moore will never forget this trip, and we will never forget meeting him. Click here for more of CNN’s special coverage of his journey, and watch for him on this month’s edition of “iReport for CNN” on CNN International.
Even though New York City is a whirlwind of rushing people, I had the chance to slow down with sjunat55 yesterday. We talked about the Big Apple, photography, and of course, iReport.
Julio’s photos came to life for me as I traipsed through Midtown and recognized the sights I’d seen in his iReports. I already feel like I’ve come to know him through his distinctive photography.
While he’s the first iReporter I’ve met out in the real world, I’m sure he won’t be the last. I hope to encounter more of you out there!
Dear Sirs or Madams:
Could you outsource your entire life to India? What about live literally by all the rules of the bible for a year? Or never tell a lie, no matter what, for a month?
Author A.J. Jacobs has done all that and more. He's made his life a series of big experiments, and on a recent visit to CNN, he challenged iReporters to join him.
Don't worry -- you won't have to follow the Ten Commandments to the letter or outsource your life. All you have to do is be polite. A.J. wants you to join him in living as the most elegant, kind, respectful, dignified people on Earth, just for one day.
It sounds simple, but A.J. says the fun will be in taking your graciousness to the limit. He came up with these examples for you to follow during your day of politeness:
--Holding the door open for your spouse is good. Holding the door open for strangers for an hour straight at your local department store – that’s great!
--Or, try writing 25 thank you notes and handing them out during the day – to the man who sells you coffee, to the toll booth operator, anyone who does anything for you.
--Or maybe put away your Blackberry or iPhone for the entire day, so you won’t be tempted to text message during meetings.
--Try bowing and curtsying instead of the boring old handshake.
--Try and see if you can dole out compliments like they’re going out of style.
--Or else, read Emily Post’s book of etiquette and try to follow everything in there to a T.
...Or be polite in some other way that you devise. You can check out A.J.'s hilarious video above (or on our assignment page) for more ideas.
Document yourself doing one or more overly polite actions and record your observations. Just have fun with it! A.J. will personally select the most polite iReporter of all, and we’re planning to showcase the politest and most interesting contributions in a video for CNN.com. To participate, just upload your submission here before January 15, 2010.
A.J. Jacobs and Team iReport
Join the iReport team today to talk about any questions, comments or concerns you have today at 3 p.m. ET.
This week we’ve seen views on climate change, a Bible-reading marathon, a tour of a brewing company, a rappelling Santa Claus, and snow blanketing major sections of the U.S., among many other things. We also launched some fresh assignments, like the second annual “365 days in 30 seconds,” “Festivus for the rest of us,” and “12 days of good deeds.”
We look forward to talking to you!
iReporters have been interviewing some famous faces lately on the red carpet. ChrisMorrow scored an interview with “American Idol’s” Adam Lambert as he donated one of his costumes from “Idol” to the Hard Rock Hotel in his hometown of San Diego. Lambert told her about his favorite TV show and what kind of junk food he can’t resist, and then she got the scoop on what went into making the costume from a stylist for “Idol.”
Pixel was able to speak to many of the celebrities appearing at the Hollywood Christmas Parade recently, including three cast members of “The Office,” “All My Children’s” Susan Lucci, "Vampire Diaries'" Kayla Ewell, and Gilles Marini, one of the most memorable recent “Dancing with the Stars” contestants. She asked all of them the simple, holiday-themed question, “Naughty or nice,” and the answers at times, were quite surprising. Of course, she couldn’t go without asking Old St. Nick himself what he thought about her question as well.
This is a great development for iReporters and we look forward to seeing more! Meanwhile, if you’ve had the chance to interview a celebrity or a name in the news, share your story with us!
Many congratulations to sjunat55, our latest CNN iReporter (and one of only three so far) to pass the one million page views mark!
A dedicated amateur photographer, sjunat55 is a long-time Manhattan resident who's always able to find a unique view of the city. From his first iReport on CNN (2008's largest moon over the New York skyline) to his most recent (remembering John Lennon), he constantly shares those "only in New York" moments. And when he's not in the city, you can find him sharing gorgeous shots he's taken all over the world, from Morocco to Puerto Rico.
sjunat55 is a brilliant iReporter not just because of his talent for photography, but also because of his talent for finding news. He doesn't just send in beautiful pictures; he sends in beautiful pictures that have news value and tell a story. Iran election protests, a gay pride parade, winter weather, cultural festivals, even literal 'signs' of the economic times -- each of his iReports tells a compelling story in photos.
Well done, sjunat55. We can't thank you enough for sharing your talents with iReport and CNN.
Please join us today at 3 p.m. ET for our weekly roundtable discussion. We're looking to telling you about some cool new projects. We're really excited about them and think they're going to be a lot of fun.
iReporters from all over the world shared some amazing stories and you can check out some of the highlights in our "This Week in iReport" video.
We also want to talk about what we can do to make the Superstar recognition system more super. If you have ideas for making users feel more welcome and appreciated, we want to hear them.
Here's what some other sites are doing that we think are cool:
Current.com puts a graph next to users' profile images to show their levels of participation.
12seconds.tv gives users badges for participating in different projects, and just being a part of the community.
Yelp.com has a Yelp Elite Squad, a review of the day that's selected by users and a public “compliments” system (good writer, funny, etc.).
We can't wait to hear your ideas.
Comments will open at 3 p.m. ET.
Please join us tomorrow for our weekly roundtable discussion. We canceled last week's meeting because of Thanksgiving, so we're really looking forward to talking to everyone and answering any questions, comments or concerns you may have.
One thing we'd like to talk about is how we can change or replace the Superstar system to better reflect your contributions to the community.
So we'd like you to do a little bit of homework before tomorrow's meeting. Just take a minute and think about what other sites you visit do to make you feel welcome, appreciated or just special.
Extra credit for sharing links to examples.
Thanks and we'll talk to you Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.
iReport Photo Club is back in full force with a new assignment that’s tied to an international headline.
Last week, Swiss voters adopted a controversial referendum banning the construction of minarets , tall spires that help identify mosques. We'd love to see examples of religious architecture in your neighborhood.
Grab your camera and submit your iReport by December 14. Please try to keep it to one submission with up to 10 photos. Happy photographing!