Monday, August 22, 2011
Top five: iReport breaking news TV interviews

Editor's note: CNN's citizen journalism initiative, iReport, is celebrating its fifth birthday this month. To mark the occasion, we're taking a look at some of iReport's shining moments in a series of top five posts on a variety of topics. Today, CNN International’s Etan Horowitz takes a look at some of the most memorable breaking news interviews with iReporters.


It didn’t take long for me to realize how important iReport is to CNN’s breaking news coverage.  On my second day of work as a CNN International TV producer a massive earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010.


Despite CNN’s global newsgathering resources, we didn’t have a crew on the ground when the earthquake struck. We turned to iReport for some of the first pictures and videos of the disaster.


But obtaining images and video is only one part of covering major breaking news. Equally important is being able to interview someone who experienced the event firsthand, especially for 24-hour news channels such as CNN and CNN International.


Starting with the Haiti earthquake and continuing with nearly every major news event since then, I’ve been amazed that no matter where in the world breaking news occurs, iReporters are always there to document it, and they often are willing to be interviewed live on CNN via cell phone or Skype to describe what they experienced.


Here’s my list of the top five iReport breaking news TV interviews:


Carel Pedre -- Haiti earthquake (January 2010)



One of the first voices to emerge from the Haiti earthquake was radio disc jockey Carel Pedre. A savvy user of technology, Pedre immediately uploaded dramatic photos of the damage to Facebook, Twitter and iReport. About three hours after the earthquake, CNN anchor Michael Holmes interviewed Pedre via Skype on “Larry King Live.”


Mark LaCroix -- Minneapolis bridge collapse (August 2007)



When the Interstate 35 West bridge collapsed during rush hour in Minneapolis, iReporter Mark LaCroix shot some incredible photos with his cell phone. Less than an hour after the collapse, Wolf Blitzer interviewed him live on CNN.


Ryan McDonald -- Japan earthquake (March 2011)



In the hours after a devastating earthquake hit northern Japan, dozens of iReporters submitted incredible footage. Some of the most memorable coverage came from Ryan McDonald, an American English teacher living in Fukushima. I still get chills when I hear McDonald yell, “Oh my God. The building’s gonna fall,” in one of his iReport videos.


During breaking news coverage, CNN International anchor Jim Clancy interviewed McDonald live via Skype for more than six minutes.


In the days and weeks following the quake, McDonald appeared as a guest on numerous CNN shows.


Michael Roberts -- Gulf Coast oil rig explosion (April 2010)



Before the world knew the true magnitude of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, iReporter Michael Roberts captured amazing video of the incident that started it all -- the early morning explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Roberts shot the footage from a nearby rescue boat.


After shooting the video, Roberts drove from the Gulf Coast to Atlanta so he could appear as a guest on several CNN TV shows, including “AC360°.”


His iReport won the 2010 iReport award for best breaking news video.


Kevin Gash -- Kyrgyzstan protests (April 2010)



Nearly a year before the Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East, protesters stormed the central square in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan to demonstrate against perceived corruption by President Kurmanbek Bakiev. Dozens of people were killed in the clashes that successfully drove Bakiev from office.


It was 20 minutes before the start of “The Brief” on CNN International, and the Kyrgyzstan protests were the big story. Yet CNN did not have a reporter in place in the capital of Bishkek. The show’s producer was frantically looking for someone in Kyrgyzstan to appear as a live guest. I had just seen a vetted iReport from Kevin Gash, an American graduate student in Bishkek. We got in touch with Gash, and 20 minutes later he was being interviewed live via Skype on CNN International.


Thank you to all the iReporters who have appeared as guests on CNN during the past five years. CNN’s breaking news coverage would be incomplete without you.

August 23, 2011
Click to view Sherbien's profile

ireporters rule the breaking news!

August 23, 2011
Click to view VeronicaLon's profile

inspiring iReporters!


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