Blog : February 2010
CNN iReport roundtable: Today at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us here in the blog for our weekly roundtable discussion. We'll be talking about our next weekend assignment - time-lapse video.


We think this is going to be a fun and challenging project and we're looking forward to giving it a try.


iReporter RyFly shared a great example that shows the demolition of a building in the Cabrini Green housing projects. That video was shot over three months, but aspencer80 was able to create a time-lapse video of the building of an igloo over a weekend.


We'll also be happy to talk about any other questions, comments or concerns you may have.


We'll open comments at 3 p.m. ET.

Posted by:
// February 25, 2010
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Much metta to you, iReport millionaire »

Percy, Percy, Percy. We were charmed by your visit to our newsroom while breaking news was unfolding around us, and even the tallest members of our freakishly tall crew were humbled by your towering presence.


With much excitement, we welcome seeitnow to the Millionaire's Club for hitting 1 million total page views on his iReports. Journalistic curiosity, investigative tendencies, production value and a touch of black humor set his body of work apart. Hard to imagine anyone else who would aspire to find out exactly what constitutes "Canadian food."


The Vancouver, British Columbia, resident has been in his element covering the 2010 Olympics, jetting off to Central America in the middle and then returning to Canada just in time for the finishing stretch. His world travels and cultural observations have made for great citizen journalism. Since he always signs his e-mails to us with "much metta," we'll return the favor this time around. Much metta, seeitnow.

Posted by:
// February 25, 2010
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The bread and butter of iReport »


With all the assignments we have on CNN iReport, and all the great stories shared, we were reminded that the crux of what we do comes down to great storytelling. An iReport from first-time submitter acraigsnyder exemplified the spirit of what we do. He was on vacation when he heard about a fire at Philadelphia International Records. The label is known for recordings in the 1970s and 1980s.


"I was out around 6 a.m. walking around taking pictures, and saw a fire truck go by and went over and got involved in the scene. I stayed inside the fire line and just shot photos for about an hour."


The photos he submitted almost speak for themselves, telling the story from start to finish. CNN affiliate WPVI reports that arson is suspected in the blaze. Fire officials told the Philadelphia Inquirer it was “a little suspicious.” The paper also reported that the recording studio, once used by Patti LaBelle and Teddy Pendergrass, was undamaged right down to the shag carpet.


"The fire wasn't bad when I arrived; it was just smoke coming out of a third story window. When I got there, there was a guy leaning out of the window. The guy was helping him but was doing more harm than good. The guy did escape and had some lacerations on his forearm, and I read later that the fire was indeed suspicious."


acraigsnyder's high-quality photos, skilled storytelling and great quotes inspired us and we hope he will inspire you, too. So if you see news near you, share your story with CNN iReport.

Posted by:
// February 23, 2010
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Getting fit with Dr. Gupta »



Six lean, mean, competing iReporters are embarking on ultimate fitness challenge – they’re participating in a triathalon with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


The Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge is a six-month journey that culminates in the Nautica New York City Triathlon on July 18, 2010. These brave iReporters will tackle this Olympic Distance race consisting of a 1500m swim, a 40k bike ride, and a 10k run.


Please welcome the list of the lucky six:


All six competitors met up with Dr. Gupta in Central Park in New York to kick off their training. Watch their appearances on CNN’s “American Morning” -- meet the first three and the others -- to learn more about their stories.


Check back here to see how these iReporters are keeping up with training and to follow along with their progress.  And, if you are embarking on a fit challenge of your own, we’d love to hear your story too.

Posted by:
// February 23, 2010
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The return of Weekend Assignments »

Hey iReporters, ready to get a little creative and have a lot of fun?  Team iReport is pleased to announce the return of Weekend Assignments – a series of engaging, but simple mini-challenges we can work on together.


Here’s how it will go down. Every Friday for eight weeks, we’ll launch a new weekend assignment.  You’ll have ‘til Sunday to complete your mission and upload your iReport. We’ll join in on the fun and find creative ways to mash up your submissions and create cool content for


We’re kicking things off this weekend with a special mobile-only challenge. We want you to take a photo on your mobile device and submit your favorite shot to iReport. We’ll join in the challenge too, and hope to learn about the types and quality of photos people capture on their mobile devices.


And here’s a sneak peek of upcoming weekend assignments.


Feb 26 – Timelapse
We’re raising the bar a bit with our second assignment. We’ll show you how stop-motion photography works and then challenge you to try it over the weekend.


March 5 – Signature dish
It seems everyone has a go-to dish that they make best. We want you to unleash your inner chef and demonstrate how to make your signature dish from start to finish.


March 12 – View from up high
We’ve seen some stunning aerial photography on CNN iReport, and this weekend we want to see your best shots. Go somewhere up high this weekend and show us the view from above.


March 20 – Walk in Our Shoes
iReporters from around the globe will film a one-minute walk during a special assignment taking place Saturday, March 20, the first day of spring. Find out more details here.


March 26 – Operation payphone
Once a mainstay of city sidewalks and mysterious movie calls, it’s hard to find a payphone these days. We want you to go out and find a pay phone in their town, show us where it’s located and whether it’s used.


April 2 – Past meets present
We’re challenging you to find an old photograph of someplace nearby, then line it up and photograph the present-day view. This assignment is inspired by the Flickr group that issues the same challenge.


April 9 – $10 thrifty challenge
How far can $10 stretch? For our last weekend assignment, we’re asking you to spend $10 and show us what you purchased.


Stay tuned for more details. And enjoy this weekend’s mobile assignment.

Posted by: tyson // February 19, 2010
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Austin attack stuns community »


Black billowing plumes of thick smoke rose from a building in the tech sector of Austin, Texas, as many commuters were heading to work this morning. A man harboring a grudge against the IRS had crashed a small plane into a building housing an IRS office. iReporters became CNN’s eyes, showing us dramatic images of the fire and telling us what was happening on the ground.


"It was pretty frightening at the time, but the whole building just shook violently. It felt like a bomb hit it,” says iReporter Ray Cano, who works in the building. “Everyone was running down the stairwell as fast as they could.”


Nearby, Ryan Hayes and his wife were driving along the highway when they noticed traffic was bottlenecking as cars passed the crash site. He happens to carry a camera with him in his car. He couldn’t believe that such a small plane could cause so much destruction.


In another neighborhood, a house that had been ablaze earlier in the morning became a piece of the puzzle. The pilot had lit his home on fire and left a suicide note before taking off in the plane.


Sherri Stepan lives two streets over from the pilot in the Scofield Farms subdivision. She says she didn't realize the burning house was connected until she heard about the plane crash on the news.


"It's a sad day for Austin. It's a sad day for my neighborhood too. This affects many people, and also that family," she said.

Posted by:
// February 18, 2010
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iReport roundtable cancelled »

We won't be able to hold our weekly roundtable today because of breaking news, but feel free to talk with each other in the comments.

Sorry for the inconvenience, but we'll be back next week.

Posted by:
// February 18, 2010
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Meet Jordan Sarver »

Hey iReport land, we are proud to introduce the newest member of Team iReport – Jordan Sarver.


Jordan is busy working behind the scenes this spring as our faithful intern. He’s already proved to be an invaluable member of the team by helping uncover breaking news iReports out of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.


Jordan’s a grad student at the University of Georgia studying health and medical journalism. He’s very interested in telling stories about how the places we live and work affect our health. In fact, Jordan is leading a new iReport assignment that asks how your neighborhood affects your diet.


When he’s not busy talking with iReporters about their submissions, Jordan enjoys working out, watching TV, and playing the guitar. He’s also a sharp dresser, as you can see.   


But perhaps the coolest thing about Jordan is that before he was an intern at CNN iReport, he was an iReporter just like you. Check out his past submissions here.


If you think you’ve got what it takes to be the next iReport intern, please apply to our summer opening here.

Posted by: tyson // February 17, 2010
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Mount St. Helens' dangerous beauty »


After hearing about climber Joseph Bohlig's fall into the volcanic crater of Mount St. Helens, Richard Keith Beckwith couldn't help but think about his niece Leigh Castleton's trip up the mountain just a few weeks before. Castleton had some footage from the late January climb, so Beckwith helped her share the video with CNN iReport under the username kbeckwith9.


Castleton says her trip was her first big mountain climb. The Portland, Oregon, resident had taken backpacking trips before, but nothing like this adventure. She says she felt lucky to be traveling with her local alpine club and an experienced crew. She advises anyone else to travel with people who know what they are doing. "It was a huge accomplishment for me anyway, but then when you hear things like that, the reality is that you have to be careful."


One incident stands out in her mind in which she feels her guides helped the group remain safe. Castleton says a climber got too close to the rim and accidentally knocked a protective snow cornice down toward the crater. He lost his footing and began to fall. Luckily, she says, he was able to stop himself from going into the crater, but she says the cornice made a thud when it went down.


"[The climber] was able to jump toward us. I heard the boom, and he was rolling down the mountain, and then he stopped and stood up and everyone was shocked because he didn't go down with it."


Bohlig is thought to have died after stepping onto a snow cornice to have a photo taken, causing the cornice to give way. Castleton says the climber she saw during her trip was "very, very fortunate." The kbeckwith9 video includes footage of the mountain before Castleton witnessed the climber get close to the ledge. She says hearing about a person actually falling down Mount St. Helens was both sobering and a reminder of the importance of having trained guides to show you how to remain safe during a climb. "They knew exactly where to draw that line," she said, referring literally and figuratively to a line in the snow pointing to where climbers shouldn't go. Near the end of the video, Castleton talks about the point where she couldn't get any closer to the edge for fear of falling off.


What are your thoughts on this news? Have you ever climbed Mount St. Helens or another peak? Share your story with us, and tell us how you stay safe.

Posted by:
// February 17, 2010
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Real-life love stories »

When Sebastiano Puglia first met a young woman named Giovanna, he fell in love. He would write poems for her and recite them outside her window in hopes of winning her heart. His plan worked; they are still together after 65 years of marriage.


Laura Ricciardi, Sebastiano and Giovanna's granddaughter, shared their love story on CNN iReport just in time for Valentine's Day. "I think they have any amazingly strong relationship," she said. "I haven't been able to figure out their secret yet, but I do think it has to do with an incredible amount of mutual respect. And spunk. There's still so much fire between them."


Laura was one of several iReporters to share how-we-met stories just like the couples in "When Harry Met Sally." The submissions were just as delightful as the classic romantic comedy, which hit theaters 20 years ago.


Lulis and Mitch met on a rainy day in New York. They lived in different cities at the time, but now are happily married 15 years later. Al and Roberta met at a country club in California. Al waited more than an hour to ask Roberta to dance -- he was listening for a slow song. Becky and John (full disclosure: they’re my in-laws) admired each other at work and just celebrated 31 years of marriage. And an angry phone call brought Andy and Adriana together; you should hear their story – it's hilarious.


It was so fun to hear such sweet stories and inspiring to see couples who have found true love. Check here to watch all of the submissions, along with a couple from Team iReport. We hope you all have a happy Valentine’s Day!

Posted by: katie // February 13, 2010
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Getting creative in the snow »


This post was written by iReport intern Jordan Sarver . Check back soon on the blog to learn more about him!


iReporters may be trapped by the snow, but imaginations are running wild. We have received several photos of snow creations from around the nation.


iReporter LindaFlores created a cowboy-inspired snowman with her family in Arlington, Texas, after they received nine inches of snow Thursday night. Brian Carnie created his snowman in celebration of Mardi Gras for his newborn daughter. The Shreveport, Louisiana resident said, “We had a baby a month ago, and she may be 10 before we have another snow like this.”


Region  isn’t the only thing inspiring iReporters. Matthew Brooks, aka mdbrooks , and& his roommate’s Lady Gaga snow creation was inspired by an old Halloween costume. And this New Jersey snowman has international roots being created by two students from India and one from St. Petersburg, Russia.


There are also snowmen protesting global warming on the Capitol submitted by AW2010 , and a fire-breathing snowman by nickandanna .


Check out our largest, weirdest, and most impressive snow creations in the gallery , and upload your own photos and videos to show us how you are dealing with this winter weather.

Posted by:
// February 13, 2010
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iReport roundtable: Today at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us at 3 p.m. ET for our weekly roundtable discussion.


It's a great opportunity to talk with Team iReport about what's going on in the news and here at CNN iReport.


Before we get started, I want to let everyone know about a really cool resource for iReporters, or anyone who wants to be a better journalist. The Knight Digital Media Center at UC Berkeley has put together tutorials on video techniques, photography, and multimedia storytelling that are really useful. I encourage you to check them out.


We'll open comments at 3 p.m. ET.


Talk to you then.

Posted by:
// February 11, 2010
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iReporter asks Michelle Obama »


This post was written by iReport intern Jordan Sarver. Check back soon on the blog to learn more about him!


As someone with an interest in health disparities, I know that health care reform isn’t the sole solution to health problems facing Americans. It seems many iReporters know this too. We received dozens of questions for Michelle Obama’s Larry King Live interview and many of them were about health-related issues, among other topics.


The first lady appeared on Larry King Live to talk about her “Let’s Move” initiative – a nationwide campaign to combat childhood obesity that launched yesterday. During her interview, she answered a question from an iReporter about improving school lunches.


Amie Hamlin, aka HealthyFood, asked Mrs. Obama how we can make children’s health a true priority with the funding to back it up. Hamlin is the executive director of the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food.


In response, Mrs. Obama said, “We’ve got to provide parents with the information and the tools they need to make better decisions, but we also need to significantly change the quality of food that kids are getting at school.”


After hearing the interview, Hamlin said she was encouraged by Mrs. Obama’s “focus on the quality of the food,” but she also has some additional concerns. “I am very encouraged by her focus on the quality of the food, but it will take more than $10 billion over 10 years to make this happen. That’s less than an additional 20 cents per meal. That’s not going to make the whole meal quality food, but it is a start.”


Hamlin also submitted a follow-up video with her thoughts on Obama's answer.


As always, it’s great to have everyday people affected by changes in policy directly address those who help create it.  Thanks Amie for your question, and keep an eye on the iReport assignment desk for more opportunities to ask CNN guests your questions.

Posted by: katie // February 10, 2010
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iReport book club re-reads Salinger »

If you took a high school English class in the last half of the 20th century (or after), chances are you read "The Catcher in the Rye." And if you were like me, you were thrilled at all the teenage freedom and bad words and raw feeling in a classroom assignment.


After author J.D. Salinger died last month, we challenged the iReport community to give the book a fresh read and see how we -- most of us pretty well grown up by now -- liked it as adults.


I think iReport producer Katie Hawkins-Gaar said it best. When I asked her what she thought re-reading the book as an adult, she said as a teenager she'd wanted to hang out with Holden Caulfield, the troubled main character, but as an adult she wanted to hug him.


iReporter Lulis Leal (known by most everyone on this site as JoyfulGypsy) came to a similar conclusion, even though she'd hated him for his endless whining the first time through. "His compassion redeemed him for me," she said.


Matt Morone, aka TeacherMM84, had an interesting perspective: he'd just recently finished teaching "Catcher" to his high school students when Salinger died. He told us he always expects his students to split on the book, half swooning and half hating it. He told us the book has grown on him over the years as he's come to appreciate what he says is its message: "As Holden stands beside the carousel in the final scene of the novel, we know that amidst all the pain, there is a glimmer of hope."


Myself, I remember loving it the first time around, but mostly because my teacher said it was just awful. And it felt pretty good to call her a phony. Now that I think about it, that was probably her plan all along. Nice one, Mrs. Gilbert.


Thanks to everyone who read along. If you did, too, let us know what you thought in the comments.

Posted by:
// February 10, 2010
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Posted in: stories
Making a difference in Haiti »

Soon after the earthquake hit in Haiti, ChrisMorrow wanted to do whatever she could to help, starting with pitching in on CNN iReport’s Haiti database. She began following the progress of the local San Diego Rescue Task Force who were determined to deliver as much aid as possible to the Haitian people. This led to her getting the opportunity to fly to Haiti and iReport from there for a week.

While staying in Sean Penn’s camp, ChrisMorrow toured remote hospitals, tent cities and scenes of complete devastation, two weeks out from the quake.

All of this moved her in a big way: In a live interview, she told HLN’s Richelle Carey, “I find myself in tears most of the time.”

CNN’s Errol Barnett spoke with ChrisMorrow while she was in Haiti as well. Check out the interview here, and if you have a story from the aftermath of the quake, share your iReport.

Posted by:
// February 5, 2010
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Posted in: stories
iReport roundtable: Thursday 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us at 3 p.m. ET for our weekly roundtable discussion. We're looking forward to talking with you.


This is a great opportunity to meet other members of the CNN iReport community and to share any questions, comments or concerns you may have.


Comments will open at 3 p.m. ET. See you then.

Posted by:
// February 4, 2010
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Site maintenance Tuesday morning »

Hey iReporters,

Just a quick note to let you know that our developers will be making some upgrades to our database tomorrow morning.

There will be a brief site service outage - about 15 minutes - starting around 7 a.m. ET.


If during that outage you need to send an iReport that just can't wait - please do so by sending it to

Update: We're all better now :)

Posted by: tyson // February 1, 2010
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The Millionaire's Club: Welcome brixton and dpkronmiller »


Please join us in congratulating brixton and dpkronmiller, the latest CNN iReporters to pass the 1 million page views mark.


brixton has been a part of the iReport community since the beginning and his funny, and often scathing, political cartoons are guaranteed to spark a lively conversation. He's also a really talented artist, so his takes on Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, the economic crisis and even steroids in baseball are as interesting to look at as they are to talk about.


His review of CNN iReport's redesign  last year is still one of our favorites.



dpkronmiller joined the CNN iReport community in June 2008, when partisan bickering over the presidential campaign was nearing its peak, and he could always be counted on for a well thought out and good-natured discussion.


He quickly developed as a storyteller, with iReports on a Los Angeles theater that turned to burlesque to survive and a touching interview with filmmaker Kurt Kuenne, who directed a documentary about his his best friend's murder.


When he lost his job last year, dpkronmiller shared his insider's insider's view of the recession. He also showed us low-budget movie making techniques and documented the production of "and Boris," a spy-comedy Web series he created with a few friends, some basic equipment and almost no money. You can watch seasons 1 and 2 at the and Boris Web site.


We're really happy that brixton and dpkronmiller are members of the CNN iReport community and are thrilled that so many people have gotten to see their work. Congratulations.

Posted by:
// February 1, 2010
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Posted in: community
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