Blog : July 2011
Dear Congress: Fix the debt problem »


The debt ceiling really has the iReport community talking, from folks sharing their advice to Congress to their fears if a debt decision isn't made by Tuesday. If Congress fails to raise the current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, Americans could face rising interest rates and a declining dollar, among other problems.


iReporters, along with analysts and politicians, weighed in on how to fix crisis, who's to blame, and who may come out a winner.


Do you have thoughts on the debt situation? We’d love to hear your take in a short video – just keep it to 30 seconds or less – or leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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// July 29, 2011
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iReport roundtable: Thursday at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us here in the blog at 3 p.m. ET for our roundtable discussion. We want to tell you about the return of our popular iReport Boot Camp project and give you an update on our 5th birthday plans, which start next week!


We'll also be happy to answer an questions, comments or concerns you may have.


Comments will open at 3 p.m. ET. We'll talk with you then.

Posted by:
// July 28, 2011
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iReporters become EW correspondents for Comic-Con »

Thanks to all who participated in this past weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con iReport coverage. Three iReporters took part in a special partnership with Entertainment Weekly, getting to work with them during the Con, and shooting videos with the crew.

First, Chris Morrow tackled our Friday assignments: Comic-Con cosplay. She interviewed a group of vicious zombies, and also took a look at female fashion at Comic-Con.

"It was a joy to work with EW," she said. 'They were helpful by giving pointers on being a better on-camera journalist."

The one and only Cherry Davis set out to meet Comic-Con couples for Thursday’s assignment.

"It was a fun experience and I would love to do it again," she said.

Deanne Goodman asked people to show off their Comic-Con swag on Friday, and got some interesting results.

"It only took about 30 minutes and the cameraman and producer were very nice," she said. "The experience overall was good."

And then there was the wonderful breakfast at the CNN iReport meetup Saturday at Searsucker. It was great meeting iReporters Mark Zhen and Tommy Yune for the first time, and thanks to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” penciler Georges Jeanty for being our special guest.

Take a look at the EW videos, and let us know what you think. Now it’s on to the next big event in the geek world: Dragon*Con, September 2-5 in Atlanta! Look for more details on specific iReport assignments there soon.

Posted by:
// July 28, 2011
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CNN iReport is looking for a fall intern »

It's that time again! We're looking for a fall intern to join our team at the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia.


The full-time, paid internship lasts about 12 weeks and is open to college students currently enrolled in school. Course credit is available, and preference is given to candidates who have previously contributed to CNN iReport.


One lucky intern will work with iReport's editorial team helping lead CNN's user-generated news content, participatory media, and community efforts. In addition to vetting iReports, producing content, and helping with brainstorming and editorial planning, interns will also have the opportunity to learn from a host of CNN professionals across platforms.


Interested? Go here for more details and to formally apply.

Posted by: katie // July 28, 2011
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What's your 9/11 story? »

As the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks gets closer, everyone from media pundits to academics and politicians will look back at that day and how it forever changed the United States and the world.


Here at iReport, we want to know how September 11 affected you. Everyone has a story from that day, whether they lost someone in the attacks or watched the news helplessly from afar, and we're interested in yours. How did the attacks make you feel? Does that day mark a turning point in your life? Who did you reach out to when you first heard the news?


A while back we launched an assignment asking for stories and we've already received dozens of amazing submissions. iReporter Brian Branco shared his incredible tale of escaping the World Trade Center and how he learned to cope with the experience. Ayesha Qazi offered her perspective as a young Muslim woman and how she stayed strong even in the face of adversity. And Ellyn Latona explained that the horrible events of September 11 led to something wonderful – meeting her husband and starting a family.


Don't miss your chance to add your perspective to the collection. We've been working on a special interactive for our anniversary coverage and hope to include as many stories as possible. We look forward to hearing from you.

Posted by: katie // July 26, 2011
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Adorable animals find creative ways to beat the heat »

Outrageously high temperatures have been baking most of the United States and parts of Canada over the past several weeks, with the mercury rising into the triple digits for some states.


We've asked iReporters to show us how they’re beating the heat this summer, but humans aren’t the only ones looking for relief from these scorching temps. Over the past week, iReporters have shared how pets and wild animals are finding creative ways to cope with the heat.


Cheryl Devlin sent in this photo of two adorable golden retrievers beating the heat at a dog park in Coral Springs, Florida, yesterday.



Devlin hits up the dog park early in the morning with her pup and says the pools, like the one pictured, are always occupied.


“You could wait the whole day out for a spot,” Devlin said. “They are not my pool hogs, but at least they share.”


Kevin Cavallin captured this Cooper’s hawk trying to cool off near his family’s pool in Des Moines, Iowa, yesterday afternoon.



This was the first hawk Cavallin had seen near the pool, but he said his family keeps a kickboard in the water so animals that fall in can swim safely to the flotation device.


“The kickboard gives them a stable platform to jump from or stand on, so as to keep them alive long enough for one of us to scoop them out with the leaf net,” Cavallin said. “It seems to work. I've seen one of the pool side chipmunks fall in, swim over to the kick board, and then hop right out of the pool and dry off.”


And last week, we go this video from Ontario, Canada, of King Joseph, a 24-year-old horse, cooling off in the lawn sprinkler.



“This is very unusual, and he is our only horse who stands in the sprinkler,” horse owner Kim Miller said. We put it out in the paddock to see what the horses would do and Joe stood right in the center of it.'


If you think these animals are cute, snap a photo or shot a video showing us how you, your pets and other neighborhood animals are beating the heat and upload it to iReport. Remember to stay cool and drink lots of water because it’s hot out there!

Posted by: ccostello3 // July 25, 2011
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Comic-Con: crowds, cosplay and Twi-hards »

Ladies dressed like superwoman? Twlight fans camped out in tents for days? This can only mean one thing-- San Diego Comic-Con is back!


Over on the "What's Next" blog, we've got a must-see roundup of iReport photos and video from the convention. Click the link to check out our post and add your comments.


Are you there? CNN iReport is teaming up with to enlist iReporters to share their Comic-Con experiences. Each day, we're focusing on a different topic, so check the assignment desk to see the latest subject. Share your story and you could be on CNN.

Posted by: CortneeH // July 23, 2011
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iReport Tumblr, activate! »


If you're a user of the popular microblogging service Tumblr, you'll be excited to know that the iReport team has just completed an overhaul of our Tumblr. We're going to be updating it with the choicest cuts of everything going on in iReport land, along with the usual grabbag of interesting tidbits that has become Tumblrs stock-in-trade.


Tumblr is a little like your own personal internet scrapbook -- a cross between the best parts of traditional blogsites like Livejournal and the rapid-fire networking of Twitter. If there’s a niche interest group out there, odds are that they’re healthily represented on Tumblr.


If you're a fan of everything iReport who uses Tumblr, give that 'follow' button on our page a click! Or, register your own account and join in the fun!

Posted by: jmsaba // July 21, 2011
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Birthday update: 14 days and counting »


We're counting down to our 5th birthday here at Team iReport and we want to make sure you don't miss out on the excitement.


We're putting the finishing touches on an exclusive birthday assignment that will only be open to iReporters who attend one of our the meetups. More than 190 iReporters in 41 cities have already signed up to attend meetups. So far, the biggest response has come from iReporters in San Diego, California, and Manila, Philippines, and the numbers are still growing.


We've set up a page to help everyone organize the event, so you can go to and follow the instructions to sign up.


If there's not a meetup scheduled in your area, you can start one yourself. Just pick a date in August and a location and we'll help you spread the word.


Please RSVP as soon as possible, because we're going to be sending out some party favors to organizers and we want to have enough for everyone.


We are thrilled to have such a great community and can't wait to celebrate everything we've accomplished together.

Posted by:
// July 20, 2011
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Haboob II: Return of the dust »

Someone let the haboob out of the bag. Kitchen tables and living rooms from Frisco to Philadelphia are buzzing about not one but two of these dastardly dust storms that have risen over metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, like some kind of impending alien invasion.


The latest storm swept in early Monday evening, layering dust on top of a a city that was already reeling from the much stronger version of the haboob less than two weeks earlier. iReporters in Phoenix looked skyward and told us these storms have taken them by surprise -- even the longtime residents.



Andrew Pielage has lived in Arizona for most of his life, but had never heard the word "haboob" until this month. Even still, he thinks he might have figured out the secret of the storm.


"Just wash your car and within 24 hours another haboob will hit," he joked.


Pielage ran up to the eighth floor of his apartment building and shot photos of the haboob blocking out the horizon behind the Westward Ho, a former hotel that is a major landmark in downtown Phoenix.



Richard Carrillo Jr. shot a close-up video of the storm blowing fiercely, tossing debris and dirt into the air.


"The storm from yesterday seemed to have carried more rain compared to the one from last week," he said. "There was a lot more dust and mud left in the streets and sidewalks compared to the last storm."



Erik Velez sat on an overpass in the northern part of town around 5 p.m. to watch the wall of dust come through.


"We had three waves of it come through last night. It wasn't as bad as the one from two weeks ago but it was pretty wild," he said.



And it was deja vu all over again for Mike Olbinski, who was out time-lapsing a dust storm for the second time. He says there was "almost zero visibility," creating hazardous conditions for drivers. He filmed for about a half hour and shot 600 images to make the video.


"The dust storm lasted probably 20 to 30 minutes, but usually it's bad when it hits you first and then starts dying out quickly."


Have you seen a haboob? Share your photos and videos with CNN iReport. We'd love to hear your experience.

Posted by:
// July 19, 2011
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Comic-Con is back! »

For the past three years, San Diego Comic-Con has been one of those events that can be counted on as an excellent place from which to iReport. It is one of the most visual, high-profile events of the year, with well over 100,000 in attendance, plus costumes and celebrities just about everywhere you look.

This year will be no different. For those of you not familiar with Comic-Con, Danny Pudi of NBC’s “Community” and Seamus Dever of ABC’s “Castle” gave us a look at how their experience was last year.

We’ve got plans in the works for daily assignments that take iReport to the next level (including a partnership with Entertainment Weekly!), and a big meetup during the Con with a special guest. CNN iReport’s Henry Hanks will be on site as well, reporting the latest news for (if you see him, say hello!).

Follow @cnnireportsdcc on Twitter once again this year for all the details. It all gets going on July 20 through 24.

Are you planning to go to San Diego this year? Let us know in the comments, and upload your photos and video if you're already in San Diego. See you there!

Posted by:
// July 18, 2011
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Double rainbows all the way ... again »

It’s been a little over a year since Paul Vasquez’s over-the-top video reaction to a double rainbow at Yosemite National Park went viral.


The three-minute video of Vasquez, aka Hungry Bear, awing and oohing over what he describes as a “full on” and “so intense” double rainbow took the Internet by storm and inspired a handful of catchy songs, parodies and interesting conversations. It even inspired iReporters to send in photos and videos of their double rainbows experiences.


Even though its been more than a year since it became an online sensation, iReporters are still sending in their photos and videos of double rainbow moments, and just yesterday we got iReports from two iReporters in New York.


Kim Lofgren from Brooklyn captured this photo of a vibrant double rainbow over Coney Island.



“Seeing how bright the sun was after a rainstorm, I thought there might be a rainbow out there,” Lofgren said. “When I went out on my terrace to check, sure enough, there was one! And it was a double rainbow! The size and brightness took my breath away!”


Nicholas Kistner was in his room in Manhattan waiting out the storm yesterday afternoon when he caught glimpse of this double rainbow.



“I thought it looked really cool, and I had to get it on camera,” Kistner said.


CNN even captured the rainbow in New York yesterday shining brightly over Central Park.



Double rainbow moments are always a nice surprise here at the iReport desk, so if you look up after a rain shower and notice Roy G Biv or a leprechaun and a pot of gold, snap a photo or film a short video and send it to iReport!

Posted by: ccostello3 // July 14, 2011
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Freaky U.S. weather fries eggs, topples trees »

It might only be Thursday, but it has already become a notable weather week. On Monday, a heat wave began to make its way across the United States, pushing temperatures up near the triple digits in 15 states.



Chris McBee from Norman, Oklahoma, decided to take advantage of the heat and used the dashboard of his car to fry his morning eggs. And this isn’t the first time he has used Mother Nature to cook his breakfast  Last year, he cooked eggs on the sidewalk outside of his home and then uploaded the video to iReport.


“I never tried on the dashboard, and this heat wave is one of the worst in years,” he said.


Fortunately for McBee, the egg fried perfectly, sunny side up.


Dave Tolchinsky, a professor at Northwestern University, snapped this photo of a tree on the campus after it was uprooted by 75 mph storm winds. On Tuesday, Illinois was rattled by a series of severe storms and CNN reported over 250,000 residents were left without power.


“I loved those trees, it was very sad to see them knocked over. Not just one tree—but several, like dominoes. The storm was over in less than an hour, and then it was sunny and hot for the rest of the day. Weird,” Tolchinsky said.



Tigran Zakaryan was driving on a highway in Kissimee, Florida when he and his wife encountered severe, driving rains and wind. While in the passenger seat, his wife captured a four second video clip of a brilliant lightening bolt as it snaked out of the sky in the distance.


Have you experienced severe weather in your area? Upload your photos and videos to iReport.

Posted by: CortneeH // July 13, 2011
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iReporters land reporting job, journalism scholarship »

Here at CNN, we're constantly impressed with the work iReporters are doing. Which is why we're so thrilled when others recognize it, too! We recently heard about two incredible accomplishments by a couple of our superstar iReporters and want to offer our congratulations.


Boston iReporter and Emerson College grad Abbey Niezgoda recently accepted a position as a reporter with ABC 6 in Providence, Rhode Island. Abbey's covered everything from Harvard's Hasty Pudding to roller derbies for CNN iReport, and we're consistently impressed with the professionalism of her work, from her on-camera presence to her editing skills. Congratulations, Abbey, and best of luck with the new gig!


iReporter (and former iReport intern!) James Brierton is a University of Georgia sophomore, weather iReporter extraordinaire, and, most recently, winner of the 2011 John Holliman Broadcast News Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to a UGA journalism student who exhibits a "passion and commitment to broadcast journalism." We've seen that passion in James since he first started iReporting local news stories around his home on Long Island in 2008. He's currently interning with NBC News in New York. Well done, James! Keep making us proud.


"I owe iReport a lot for helping shape me into the journalist I am today," says Abbey. And we, in turn, owe you guys for bringing your talents to the iReport community and helping CNN cover stories across the country. We couldn't be happier for you. Congratulations!


If you, too, have achieved a goal with help from iReport, please be sure to let us know!

Posted by:
// July 12, 2011
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Let's have a party! »


iReport is turning FIVE next month, and in honor of the big day we'd like to, well, celebrate.


Here in Atlanta, where Team iReport is based, we're cooking up plans for a party. But it wouldn't be fair to keep all the fun to ourselves, especially since Atlanta is a long way away from many of you. So we're also organizing a month-long series of birthday get-togethers all around the world, in lots of locations where every place there are iReporters (which is just about everywhere).


It's going to be a great chance to meet other iReporters and participate in a special birthday assignment that will only be open to people at the meetups. We'll also be sending out some party favors to help get the parties started.


The wheels are already turning in Manila, New York, Washington, Las Vegas, Seattle, Dallas, San Diego, Houston, Vancouver, Minneapolis and Hyderabad, India, and several more iReporters are also planning meetups in their cities. And we're just getting started.


We've set up a page to help us organize the parties. If there's already a meetup planned in your town, just RSVP, so we'll know you’re coming.


If not, you can start your own group, and help us by picking a date and location for the event.


Here's what you do:

1) Go to and either create an account or log in.

2) When you get logged in, you will see that the site automatically creates a community for your town.

3) Click on the link and then click the red "count me in" button.

4) You should then see an option to recommend a location and change the date and time. You can go ahead and set the date when you want to have it.

5) Once you've created the meetup, you can start sharing it on Twitter, Facebook etc. and we will spread the word as well.

6) Finally, please make sure that your address and phone number are updated on your CNN iReport profile.


We'll be sending meetup kits (which are sort  of a party in a box) and the special assignment to organizers about a week before their meetups.


This is something we've wanted to do for years and we're really excited about it!


If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below, or email

Posted by:
// July 11, 2011
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Massive haboob hits Phoenix »

Residents in Phoenix, Arizona, awoke this morning to a surprising gift from Mother Nature -- a 5,000-foot-high dust cloud engulfing their entire city. The dust cloud is referred to by many as a “haboob” which comes from the Arabic word habūb, meaning “strong wind.” Haboobs typically form as sandstorms during the summer monsoon season.


Here is a highlight from iReporters in Phoenix who shared their photos and video.



When Mike Olbinski heard that a haboob was descending on his city, he ran to the parking garage and began taking pictures. Olbinski then produced an awesome time lapse video that he uploaded to CNN iReport. He said, “I've seen pictures of dust storms from other places but never seen anything up close. Last night it looked apocalyptic -- like from a movie or something.”



Gregg Galvez, a resident of neighboring Chandler, Arizona, described this dust storm as the worst he has ever seen. He said that there were "massive amounts of dust everywhere" and that his pool "was a mess."



Christian Medrano captured this video of the haboob outside of his home in Tempe. He said that the effects from the dust cloud were relatively minor.


“For the brief time the doors were open, a very fine film of dust developed around the house. Physically we weren't too affected other than dust in the eyes,” Medrano said.


Have you been affected by the Phoenix haboob? Upload your iReport and share your story.

Posted by: CortneeH // July 6, 2011
Posted in: stories
Texas road trip takes us to San Antonio »

Last week iReport had the pleasure to spend a couple of days in San Antonio, Texas, while on a road trip across south and central Texas with the CNN Express bus and CNN's Defining America. Wednesday afternoon saw us racing north across the vast pastures of South Texas -- a ride familiar to me from many childhood trips to San Antonio from my home town of Harlingen, Texas. The sight of cattle resting under the shade of oak and mesquite trees and even the rank smell of King Ranch "gold" helped transform the 4-hour drive into a pleasant ride down memory lane.


We arrived in San Antonio just in time to hold a meetup with local iReporters at La Gloria Ice House, a Mexican tapas restaurant and watering hole on the bank of the San Antonio River. The pleasantly warm summer evening and excellent setting were perfect for a lively chat with our iReport friends.



One of our guests, Veronica Lara Dallahan, recalled how her first iReport was about having fun for free. "We videotaped ourselves sliding down a grassy hill. That's something we would do as kids, and it's still quite fun actually." When I asked her what kept her coming back to iReport, she explained: "I like to see normal everyday people tell their stories in their own words and express themselves as they would like to express themselves without being edited."



Michele Darien, another iReporter, agreed that what kept her coming back to iReport was the ability to see "everyday people telling everyday stories."


"You know people in the community better, whereas a journalist might have to travel from place to place and doesn't really have a feel of the local atmosphere. So with iReport, you can go out to your own community and capture the things that are going on."



Thursday morning, we set up right next to the Alamo to talk to visitors about iReport and gather contributions to the cultural census. The Alamo sees 2.5 million visitors every year, so we had no trouble meeting lots of interesting folks from Texas and beyond.


The cultural census is one of iReport's most exciting projects this year. Our goal is to represent America's identity and culture through five fun assignments you can do from home. If you haven't yet participated, this is your chance! Here's how to get started:


1. Fill out this quick cultural survey.


2. Complete one or more of the following cultural census assignments.


Share a photo
Take a self-portrait. Get creative!


Read aloud
Tape yourself reading a standard passage.


Eat dinner
Show us a photo of you or your family's typical weeknight dinner.


Write this down
Scan or snap a photo of your handwriting.


Get around
Show us how you generally get around town.

Posted by:
// July 5, 2011
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Happy Fourth of July! »

Happy Fourth of July everyone! Today, the United States officially turns 235 and iReporters from around the country are celebrating. So today, iReport is spotlighting some of your best Independence Day photos.


Wendy Card from New Bern, North Carolina got her dog, Bo, to wear her city and country flag inside of his collar. Doesn’t he look proud?



Jeremy Michael said that more than 1,000 people gathered along the streets of Great Capacon, West Virginia, to watch the Fourth of July parade.


“July 4 is important to me because it reminds us of our country's sacrifice and what we stand for,” Michael said.



Johnny Runciman attended the annual “Red, White and Boom” fireworks display in Audobon Park near Columbus, Ohio. “Red, White and Boom” is the largest fireworks display in the Midwest.


What are you doing to celebrate America’s birthday? Upload your photos and video to iReport and share your story.

Posted by: CortneeH // July 4, 2011
Posted in: stories
Road tripping with the CNN Express, part two: Texas! »

This week we packed up our bags and joined the CNN Express for a road trip across south and central Texas with the Defining America crew. This is our second census road trip this year (remember our trip to North Carolina?) and I was very happy to go to Texas, which is my home state. Our first stop was Harlingen, in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley.


Harlingen sits at the intersection of important state highways coming from the bustling border towns of McAllen and Brownsville. A commercial hub itself, Harlingen is home to the region's largest airport and Harlingen High School South, from where yours truly graduated. As we rode through the streets of Harlingen, my head and pupils twitched from side to side absorbing new landmarks and wondering when the old ones ceased to be. New taco fast-food chains? Check. Old comic book store? Gone.


But one thing remains constant in Harlingen: baseball. What better place to set up the iReport cultural census booth and meet Rio Grande Valley residents than at a game between the Harlingen WhiteWings and their rivals, from about 30 miles to the west, the Edinburg Roadrunners?



At Harlingen Field I met with fellow iReporter and former Marine Rey Leal. Leal's first iReport in 2009 documented the 250-mile march from McAllen to San Antonio that he and about 100 other veterans conducted to protest the lack of a veteran's hospital in the Rio Grande Valley. Leal told me, "When we started to walk, all the local channels came to see us." After they left populated areas and continued their way up desolate roads, local news outlets lost interest and they went from news subjects to "just a bunch of crazy dudes walking on the side of the road." That's when he took action by shooting and producing his iReport, which sparked interest and was aired on HLN. It got national attention.



Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs contracted local hospitals to offer inpatient services to veterans, and this past February, a new outpatient surgery center opened in Harlingen, thereby nearly eliminating the need for veterans to travel long distances in search of health care. Leal's story is a solid reminder of the power of citizen journalism and iReport to bring attention to issues sometimes overlooked by traditional media.


In Harlingen I also visited Texas State Technical College on Wednesday morning, where I recruited a small army of iReporters. Hooray for new friends!


In our next update from the road, we'll take a look at our visit to San Antonio. In the meantime, please continue to participate in iReport's cultural census. If you haven't done so yet, you can start by filling out this survey and completing one of the following assignments:


Share a photo
Take a self-portrait. Get creative!


Read aloud
Tape yourself reading a standard passage.


Eat dinner
Show us a photo of you or your family's typical weeknight dinner.


Write this down
Scan or snap a photo of your handwriting.


Get around
Show us how you generally get around town.

Posted by:
// July 2, 2011
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Save the date »


Mark your calendars and save some room for birthday cake: On August 2, iReport will turn five!


Yep, it’s a big milestone and you can bet we’ll celebrate in a big way. We’ll provide more details as the date nears. For now, you can plan to participate in some fun projects. We have some surprises up our sleeve, too.


Here at iReport headquarters, we’ve got a countdown going until the big day – we’re currently 31 days away. We hope you’re looking forward to it as much as we are!

Posted by: katie // July 1, 2011
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