The latest and greatest on CNN iReport, brought to you by Team iReport.
2011 sure kept us busy. From natural disasters to revolutions to the end of modern day slavery, iReporters were on the ground throughout the world helping to tell the stories of the year. Since it's the time of year for list making, here are our 17 favorite moments:
1. Revolutions sweep the Arab world
It all started in Tunisia when a street vendor’s self-immolation sparked protests throughout the country. On January 25, Egyptians took to Cairo's Tahrir Square, calling for their leader to step down. Before we knew it, we were getting iReports from all over the Middle East, north Africa and other regions of the world. We chronicled the perspectives of five people in countries experiencing the unrest and featured iReporters all over TV and CNN.com.
2. Earthquake in Japan
We received more than 1,200 iReport submissions in the first 10 days after the March 11 earthquake in northern Japan. Ryan McDonald, Harrison Peyton and Richard Dong were among our first eye-witnesses, picking up their cameras while the ground was still shaking and shooting dramatic footage. CNN invited several iReporters on air to share their experiences and showcased their photos of post-disaster Japan.
3. September 11, 10 years later
We marked the 10-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by connecting 5 pairs of iReporters who had never met but whose lives were forever changed that day. The connections were surprising and powerful -- like Steve Jauregui and DeLicha Germany, who were 17 in 2001 and said the attacks motivated them to join the armed forces; or Brian Branco and Shelley Ram-Saban, who both escaped the South tower of the World Trade Center that day. Hundreds of other iReporters from around the world also shared their stories of how 9/11 impacted their lives in a scrolling interactive.
4. After Osama bin Laden
In the hours after U.S. forces killed terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, celebrations erupted around the U.S. We received more than 400 iReports, including this piece from documentary filmmaker Zack McTee, who captured the feeling in New York City that night.
5. Taking a stand to end slavery
When CNN launched a international campaign to end modern-day slavery, iReporters in dozens of countries helped spread the message in simple and beautiful ways. More than 300 iReporters contributed to our "Take a stand to end slavery" project, including an entire school in South Korea, and iReporters in at least 32 countries made paper airplanes with messages about human trafficking. Others made efforts to educate their own communities about the problem.
6. iReport turns five
CNN iReport celebrated its 5th birthday this year and we wanted to celebrate with our community. We couldn't bring everyone to Atlanta, Georgia, so we sent party kits out for iReporters around the world to host their own birthday meetups. It was the first time we've tried anything like that and it turned out better than we ever imagined. We ended up having meetups in 41 cities, including Kandy, Sri Lanka; Cairo, Egypt; San Diego, California; Abuja, Nigeria; Hong Kong, China; Houston, Texas and Manila, Philippines. We also celebrated the milestone with a series of "Top 5" blog posts and looked back at our five years in this video.
7. 10 years in Afghanistan
October marked the 10th anniversary of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, a conflict that has drawn passionate praise and criticism since its beginning. To look back on 10 years of war, CNN asked service members, contractors and Afghans how the conflict changed their lives. We featured 10 perspectives outlining 10 very different experiences in the years of war, but the contributors all seemed to have one thing in common: Their lives will never be the same.
8. Son honors fallen dad
On August 6, a Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan, killing 30 Americans including Bryan Nichols. After watching news coverage of the crash but not seeing his father's photo, 10-year-old Braydon Nichols turned to iReport. He posted a photo of his father with a simple message: "My father was the pilot of the Chinook. I have seen other pictures of victims from this deadly mission and wish you would include a picture of my father." Before long, Braydon's iReport went viral, getting more than 200,000 page views and leading to several CNN.com stories and a huge outpouring from readers. Just as he hoped, Braydon ensured that his father would not be forgotten.
9. Occupying Wall Street
On September 17, hundreds of people inspired by populist movements in Europe and in the Middle East descended on Manhattan's Zuccotti Park for what would be the beginning of a prolonged encampment and demonstration. In the following weeks the Occupy Wall Street movement spread to cities and towns across the world. CNN iReport received more than 3,000 submissions from demonstrations in more than 300 cities and 30 countries. You can explore their contributions in the Occupy Wall Street Open Story and a portait gallery of 100 people who joined the movement.
10. Irene's aftermath
Hurricane Irene barreled through the Caribbean and swept up the East Coast in August, leaving behind a swath of destruction. iReporters were there in droves, telling stories that mirrored the path of the storm. Their images and videos were featured in the Irene Open Story, our new storytelling tool that spotlights iReports alongside footage from CNN journalists in an interactive timeline and map. It was a true collaboration between iReport and CNN and one of the most successful Open Stories to date.
11. Defining America
CNN took on a huge task in 2011: Defining America. Literally, that’s what we called the project. Our goal was to paw through the 2010 census data, and nationwide data from other sources, and report on any interesting trends we could. iReporters’ contribution to Defining America was the cultural census, which paired your personal submissions with hard data to get at some of the nuances and explanations behind these trends. You helped put a personal spin on some of the most interesting analysis pieces of the year, like why our Facebook profile pictures look the way they do and whatever happened to cursive handwriting.
12. The things we carry
Atlanta photographer Jason Travis was the inspiration behind the iReport Persona project, a look at what people carry on them and what they deem essential. We took the project to the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, where more than 700 attendees took pictures of themselves and their possessions –- including R.E.M.’s front man, Michael Stipe -- and yielded some interesting trends.
13. Comments in the spotlight
Sometimes the reaction to a story is just as interesting as the story itself -- or even more so. Our Overheard on CNN.com feature really took off in 2011. The goal was to find the great conversations happening on the site and let people know about them, in turn generating new discussions. We weren't sure what would happen, but people started to really enjoy the stories and add comments of their own. Readers shared their opinions on topics ranging from "oops" debate moments to Jesus on trial to Thanksgiving leftovers.
14. William and Kate get hitched
Oh, the hats, the scones, the dress. Jason Sauter was CNN’s first official Royal Wedding iReporter, beating out thousands of contestants to report first-hand on the festivities surrounding Prince William and Kate Middleton. And on the day of the nuptials, we heard from royal wedding watchers the world over sacrificed sleep to watch the big event. Our favorite came from a remote territory in the South Pacific that normally has electricity for just 10 hours a day but kept the power on so locals could watch the wedding on CNN.
15. iReport joins Instagram
We started an account on the mobile-only photo app for the iPhone to share some of the special moments we enjoy around the office. Before long, thousands of followers found our #cnnireport hashtag and impressed us with their passion and talent. We tapped into that community when we partnered with Mashable to ask how people use technology in their everyday lives. We love the creativity in the mobile photography space, and we can't wait to see what else happens in 2012.
16. Muppets take iReport
iReporters have interviewed the President, the cast of “The Walking Dead,” and Kim Kardashian. But when it came to the stars of the latest Muppet movie, once just wasn’t enough. So many great questions came in for Kermit, Miss Piggy and Walter that we gave Muppet fans (puppet and human alike) three opportunities to get their questions answered and share how much the Muppets have meant to them. Check out the first two interviews with Kermit and Miss Piggy and the interview with Walter, the newest Muppet.
17. iReport relaunches
We couldn’t write a post about 2011 without mentioning the brand-new iReport. We completely rebuilt the site to focus on the most important part of our community: Its people. The new iReport has a personalized home page so you can see the stories and assignments you're interested in and lets you favorite the stories you think deserve attention. To top it off, we've rebuilt our media player so that every video and photo iReport can now be seen in beautiful high definition format.
It was a great year, but it's not over. Help us say goodbye to 2011 and ring in 2012 iReport style.
In the 2000-2008 secdtion, I chronicled Dick Cheney and George Jr. as war criminals.
Don't you think that Rice and Ashcroft deserve a little attention as well?