Blog : May 2012
iReport Debate: Top 5 election issues »

Throughout the election season, we're inviting you to tell us what issues matter most in an initiative called the iReport Debate. Hundreds nominated their top issues, and more than 33,000 of you ranked those issues in order of importance.

 

And it's perhaps no surprise that the economy tops your list, with 44% of voters identifying it as their top issue.

 

Why do we care what issues matter most to you? They'll determine what topics iReporters tackle in weekly head-to-head debates. Before we explain, check out the five issues:

 

1. Economy

2. Health care

3. National debt

4. Education

5. Taxes

 

In the coming weeks, we'll be introducing new questions based on each of these topics, giving you the opportunity to make your best argument for why and how the next president should tackle the problem.

 

Ultimately we'll take questions to the candidates themselves.

 

We've launched an iReport Debate group to keep you informed of the assignments and the latest news on the debate front. Stay tuned and come back here for more details on Monday, June 4.

Posted by:
 
zdan
// May 29, 2012
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Posted in: community
Applications now open for iReport Awards weekend »

By now, you may have heard the exciting news: The iReport Awards are getting bigger. This year, for the first time ever, we’re hosting a weekend-long event and celebration at the CNN Center and surrounding locations in Atlanta, Georgia, from June 22-24.

 

The weekend events will include exciting opportunities for a select group of attendees to meet and mingle with CNN staffers and the iReport team, sessions designed to share journalism experiences and discuss the changing media landscape, and – of course – a fabulous iReport Awards ceremony. The iReport Awards weekend is a way for CNN to demonstrate its commitment to participatory journalism and the amazing stories we’re able to find and cover and share thanks to the iReport community. You can find out more here.

 

Attendance to the iReport Awards weekend is limited, but there are a select number of slots available that will be filled via an application process. Attendees will be responsible for booking their own transporation and accommodations.

 

If you’re interested in being part of the inaugural group of iReport Awards weekend attendees, please send an email to CNN.iReport.Awards@turner.com and include the following information:

 

1. Your full name and age

2. Your iReport screen name (if applicable)

3. Tell us why you’re interested in attending the Awards weekend, and what you hope to contribute.

 

We will accept email submissions through 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 3, and will contact attendees shortly afterward. If you have questions about the weekend events or application process, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

 

We look forward to hearing from you!

Posted by:
 
katie
// May 26, 2012
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Posted in: community
Marches, moves and messages: The best of iReport this week »

Every week, hundreds of iReports are uploaded onto the site, and each week the iReport Team highlights stories that are exceptional, undiscovered or simply the best. From naming streets after icons to walking suspects off runways, this week, the site was filled with breaking news, momentous moves and messages of hope:

 

Joplin, one year later

 

As May 22 approached, Grant Deardorff drove around Joplin, Missouri, snapping pictures of the town that one year ago was decimated by a devastating tornado. He photographed local schools, businesses and homes and says the landscape has totally transformed.

 

“I would never show up and take pictures of the back of a Walmart, but Walmart had been gone and it had been destroyed,” he said. “The most mundane place in your entire world can become the most significant.”

 

Flight scare

 

A woman in handcuffs was led away by police after a security scare on Flight 787 from Paris to Charlotte, North Carolina, on Wednesday. John O'Connor and his wife were onboard when they noticed some commotion on the plane. The woman claimed to have a device implanted in her body. "It was just so low key. The announcement came on board that they were looking for an emergency medical person, then 'was there a doctor on board?'" he said.

 

"The suspect was seated diagonally to me. At some point during the flight she came up and sat. I thought she was the one doing the helping rather than the one in trouble," he said.

 

Nay to NATO

 

The NATO Summit in Chicago generated more than just ideas, it stirred up emotions of anger, frustration and passion. People from all over the U.S. came to the Windy City to protest the summit, marching through the streets of downtown, chanting for the end of military occupation in Afghanistan.

 

Tom Jozefowicz documented the marches, which he described as chaotic. “There [were] thousands and thousands of people, and hundreds of police officers on both sides of the streets,” he said.

 

I spy the 'ring of fire'

 

Sky-watchers in some parts of the world were treated to a rare event over the weekend: An annular solar eclipse. The "ring of fire" -- termed becaused the sun appears as a thin ring behind the moon -- was visible in Western parts of the U.S. and Asia. Howard Bruensteiner photographed the solar eclipse over the sandy dunes of Roswell, New Mexico.

 

He describes the eclipse as something that reminded him of infinity. "At mid-eclipse, looking into the blackness in the center of the sun was like looking into forever ... like a worm hole, if that could be imagined," he said.

 

There's 'Milk' on the street

 

San Diego’s Blaine Avenue was christened Harvey Milk Street on Tuesday, the 82nd anniversary of the slain gay rights leader. Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected for public office in California. Anthony Antoine McWilliams shot a video of the street sign’s unveiling and said it shows that Milk should be honored for his leadership.

 

"The climate is now to see the dreams of Harvey Milk fulfilled. It's the same year that our first sitting President of the United States has publicly shifted his position to support gay marriage,' he said.

 

Is news happening where you are, or do you have an opinion you'd like to share? You could be part of next week's Best of iReport. Share your story here.

Posted by:
 
Jareen
// May 25, 2012
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Posted in: week_in_ireport
No iReport roundtable today »

The iReport roundtable is taking a hiatus, but  we will be back in a couple of weeks, better than ever.

 

Don't worry though, you can still reach us if you have questions, comments or concerns. You can email the team at contact@ireport.com.

 

Comments are open if you want to talk amongst yourselves. We'll check in periodically in case there are any questions.

 

In the meantime mark your calendars for a special roundtable on Thursday, June 28, time TBD, where we'll share all the fun details from the iReport Awards weekend.

 

We'll see you around the site!

Posted by:
 
davidw
// May 24, 2012
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Posted in: community
CNN iReport Awards: Personal stories »

 

Editor's note: The iReport Awards recognize the best in participatory journalism from around the iReport community. You can see the nominees in all of the categories and vote for the Community Choice Award at the CNN iReport Awards website.

 

iReporters share personal stories with CNN - and the world - every day. Their courage, openness and honesty add a personal dimension to often-difficult issues.

 

The nominees in the Personal Story category of the iReport Awards shared an intimate look into their lives as well as a unique perspective into the news:

 

Son’s tribute to a fallen soldier

 

Braydon Nichols' father, Army Chief Warrant Officer Bryan Nichols, was one of 30 American troops killed last August when their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. The 10-year-old boy said that he had seen pictures of other troops killed in the crash and asked CNN to please include a photo of his dad.

 

Braydon’s tribute to his father inspired a tremendous response from the iReport community. Readers have left hundreds of comments over the past nine months offering encouragement and praising him for his courage and his family’s sacrifice.

 

From blind vision to beyond sight

 

 

Kurt Weston is a legally blind photographer who has been living with HIV/AIDs for decades. Weston suffered a number of AIDS-related illnesses, including the condition that took his sight.

 

He says anti-retroviral medications saved his life and enabled him to focus on his art career.  Weston says he believes in the healing power of art and that his work is about appreciating life.

 

Family finishes 3-year, 17,500 mile bike trip

 

John and Nancy Sathre-Vogel took their twin sons Davy and Daryl on a bike ride from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to the southern tip of Argentina. They documented much of their trip on iReport.

 

Nancy Sathre-Vogel said they wanted to go on this 14-country adventure before their teenage sons were too old to want to travel with their parents.

 

Challenger disaster inspires NASA painting

 

David Wesley Jarvis was watching from his balcony in Cocoa Beach, Florida, when the space shuttle Challenger exploded 74 seconds after liftoff in 1986. Jarvis says that memory inspired him when he was chosen to create artwork to commemorate the 1990 launch of space shuttle Columbia.

 

Jarvis’ iReport showed how the Challenger disaster and his admiration for the space program influenced him as an artist.

 

My Tunisian story

 

Tunisian student Meriem Ben Salah was in graduate school in California when revolution broke out in her home country. She watched from afar as the Arab Spring erupted in Tunisia and shared her frustration with the government and her fear for friends and family at home.

 

She said the corruption in her country made many people ashamed to admit they were Tunisian, but said that she was very proud of her country now.

 

Advice from my dad

 

Michael Cohen shared the difficult and often conflicting emotions he has experienced while dealing with his father’s struggle with Alzheimer’s. He says the disease has made his 80-year-old father irrational and paranoid.

 

Cohen painted this portrait as a tribute to his father’s Spanish heritage and expressed his admiration for his dad’s legacy as a hard worker and a father.

 

Which story would you pick? You can vote for your pick for the Community Choice Award at the CNN iReport Awards website and you can share your story at CNN iReport.

Posted by:
 
davidw
// May 23, 2012
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Posted in: ireport_awards
iReport Pundit of the Week: You! »

 

Those in the know have been following our Pundit of the Week feature for the past few months, where we shine a light on iReporters who regularly offer thoughtful, incisive commentary on the hottest issues of the day.

 

And what a cast of characters it's been! Among those crowned were a puppeteer, an aspiring hip-hop mogul, a former newspaper reporter, and many more. Each of them brought a unique perspective, voice and energy to iReport, and they've quickly become some of the best-loved members of the community.

 

This, friends, is the final Pundit of the Week before we move into the next phase of the iReport Debate. (Stay tuned for more exciting details on that front!)

 

More than 22,000 people have cast their vote for their top issue in the 2012 elections, with the economy, health care and the national debt out in the lead. Also in pole position were education, tax reform and the social safety net. If you haven't cast your vote yet, this is your last chance – the polls officially close Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

 

All of this is a roundabout way of saying: Our final Pundit of the Week is you, the iReporter, and everyone who voted in the iReport Debate. iReport wouldn't be what it is – it wouldn't have such an excellent group of commentators and pundits – if it wasn't for our involved, engaged community.

 

If you want to know exactly why we're so proud of everyone, watch the video above for an in-depth explainer on the iReport Debate, and how our iReport pundits are directly contributing to CNN’s 2012 coverage.

 

Want to speak out and make your voice heard on iReport? There are still plenty of ways to get involved: Sound off on today's headlines, or cast your vote for your top issue in the 2012 elections.

Posted by: jmsaba // May 22, 2012
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Posted in: pundit_of_the_week
CNN iReport Awards: Breaking News »

 

Breaking news is a vital part of CNN iReport's mission. iReporters are often among the first people on the scene of a major news event – either as witnesses or participants in the story.

 

The iReporters nominated in the Breaking News category contributed to the depth and impact of CNN's coverage by giving a firsthand view of the situation:

 

Egyptian forces fire tear gas on bridge

 

Heather Wiley and her father George watched the Arab Spring unfold in Egypt from their hotel window. They were filming as a huge crowd of demonstrators marched across Cairo's Kasr Al Nile Bridge on the way to Tahrir Square.

 

Even from a distance, you could hear the crowds cheering and the pop of tear gas canisters that retreating Egyptian authorities fired into the crowd.

 

Arrested as a photographer

 

Awards protest

 

iReporter Jay Sansone was photographing the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York when demonstrators clashed with police.

 

Sansone said the scene in Zuccotti Park was a nightmare, with thousands of people scattering in all directions. His photos captured the drama of the confrontation and the powerful emotions he felt as the chaotic scene swirled around him.

 

Disaster hits Joplin, Missouri

 

Joplin aftermath

 

Miguel Olave traveled with a missionary group to Joplin, Missouri, to help residents clean up after the devastating May 22, 2011, tornado.

 

Olave said that every time he went to a disaster area, he "would get chills … my hairs would stand up." He says that his dramatic photos only captured a glimpse of the devastation.

 

Indiana State Fair stage collapse

 

Jessica Silas was waiting for the popular country group Sugarland to perform when a storm kicked up powerful winds at the Indiana State Fairground. Silas decided to shoot video of the storm, and was filming when the stage collapsed.

 

You can hear screams as people in the crowd realized what happened. The video shows people near the stage rushing to rescue people trapped under the debris.

Japan earthquake

 

 

Ryan McDonald was in his apartment in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, when the March 11, 2011, earthquake struck the region. The 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that ravaged coastal areas and caused a nuclear disaster.

 

McDonald described what he was experiencing as he shot shaky video of the quake. You can hear the fear in his voice as he realizes just how bad the quake was.

 

Quechee covered bridge

 

James E. Miller said he had no idea how badly Hurricane Irene had hit Quechee, Vermont, until he walked down to Main Street and saw the river washing away the town's covered bridge.  Miller said the river normally flows 20 or 30 feet below the bridge.

 

Which story would you pick? You can vote for your pick for the Community Choice Award at the CNN iReport Awards website and you can share your story at CNN iReport.

Posted by:
 
davidw
// May 22, 2012
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Posted in: ireport_awards
CNN iReport Awards: Interviews »

Interviewing is one of the most important elements of a good story. Getting someone to agree to talk can be a challenge -- and that's just the beginning. Reporters also have to ask smart questions and react quickly to the answers.

 

The iReporters nominated in the Interview category talked with the famous, the infamous, close family and complete strangers and came away with unique insights into their lives:

 

Wisconsin protests

 

 

Jason Seher went to the Wisconsin State Capitol in February and talked with workers protesting Gov. Scott Walker's plan to limit state workers' collective bargaining rights.

 

Seher described the rally as 'peaceful mayhem' and his interviews captured the protesters' passion. At one point, a woman burst into tears when she talked about how the legislation would affect her children.

 

Michelle "Bombshell" McGee

 

San Diego iReporter Chris Morrow sat down with pinup model Michelle "Bombshell" McGee in January, a few months after she gained notoriety for her affair with celebrity motorcycle builder Jesse James. James was married to Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock at the time and the couple split up after the affair went public.

 

McGee talked at length about her relationship with James, how she felt about Bullock and how her children dealt with the scandal.

 

Muslim blood drive on 9/11

 


Ahmd Chaudhry said he was impressed by people's reaction to the Muslims for Life blood drive on the tenth 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks [add comma] so he decided to interview them.

 

Chaudry's interview  showed how Muslim Americans were feeling on the 9/11 anniversary, as well as how non-Muslims reacted to the gesture.

 

Tim Gunn on 'Star Trek' fashion

 

Fashion guru and "Project Runway" star Tim Gunn weighed in on wardrobe choices aboard the starship Enterprise in this interview with iReporter Alan Kistler. Gunn said most of the space fashions on the show looked like today's workout clothers.

 

He also pointed out that Lt. Uhuru and other female crew members' short dresses and boots weren't really appropriate for combat, or sitting down. Kistler's interview generated a conversation on style and gender.

 

My Aunt Dovie is 100 years old

 

Rebecca Nava sat down with her Aunt Dovie on the day before her 100th birthday. She talked to her aunt about her daily routine, which involved drinking lots of coffee,  cleaning her house from floor to ceiling and doing yard work.

 

Nava said she did the interview because she said she wanted everyone to know how amazing her aunt is.

 

Tiananmen student leader on revolution

 

iReporter Neal Moore interviewed Chinese dissident Wu'erkaixi, one of the student leaders of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. He fled the country after the government cracked down on the protests and has been living in exile ever since.

 

Wu'erkaixi  shared his unique perspective on the Arab Spring protests in the Middle East, as well as democracy efforts in China

 

You can vote for your pick for the Community Choice Award at the CNN iReport Awards website and you can share your story at CNN iReport.

Posted by:
 
davidw
// May 18, 2012
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Posted in: ireport_awards
Herons, wildfires and silent raves: The best of iReport this week »

Here at Team iReport, it’s always tough to boil down the best iReports in any given week to five high-quality gems you see in these roundup blog posts. We watch the site like a mother hawk tending to her nest, so we get to see all of the awesome photos, videos and stories that iReporters regularly send our way. But picking out the best ones? It's like asking that mother hawk to pick her favorite hatchling.

 

From a rave on the beaches of Tel Aviv and majestic herons fishing in the waters of Alberta, Canada, to the wildfires raging in the U.S. Southwest – Dear Reader, this is the week in iReport.

 

Portraits of poverty in Italy

 

Domenico Giannantonio lives in the small, northern Italian town of Reggio Emilia. Last year, during his travels throughout the town and to the metropolitan centers Venice and Milan, he was struck by scores of homeless and impoverished he saw in the streets. He took these photos as a way of humanizing what he sees as an underrepresented group in Italian society.

 

“We really could not solve the problem of poverty in our society, but we can do one thing: to speak and listen to [them]. Hear their story of life, gather their evidence,” he said. “In short, consider them persons and not objects.”

 

Herons: Kings of the fishermen!

 

Professional photographer Eric Rossicci was traveling the waterways of Surrey, British Columbia, when he came across a group of herons feasting on fresh fish. He knew he had to get the moment on camera, and these stunning HDR-enhanced pictures were the result.

 

“There is a rookery nearby and at this time of year the Herons are busy building their nests and fishing,” he said. “The inevitable fight for fishing territory follows as can be expected, so it's always fun to watch them and capture them doing what they do best. They are so engrossed in fishing that they don't mind people getting close to them which makes it easy for me to get their pictures.”

 

Arizona wildfires ‘bleeding’ into Phoenix

 

Andrew Pielage of Phoenix, Arizona, shot these photos of nearby wildfires on May 15. Firefighters are trying to contain major blazes fueled by strong winds in the region. “We figured the best way to get some quality images would be to go with the birds-eye-view," he said. "Once up on our perch we knew right away this wildfire is not going away anytime soon”

 

The ‘right side of history’ on same-sex marriage

 

Cartoonist Brixton Doyle regularly submits his doodles to iReport, which he uses to sound off on current events, and offer a humorous look at the top headlines of the moment. He penned this comic in reaction to North Carolina's May 7 statewide vote to approve an amendment that bans same-sex marriage, and Obama's announcement a day later of personal support for LGBT partnerships.

 

“We might not have had a country, let alone a Constitution, if not for a gay man, [Frederich Wilhelm] von Steuben – the tactician Washington (well-aware of his homosexuality) employed to get his army in shape at Valley Forge,” he wrote, citing a popular but still-unproven view among some historians. “I think states that are foolish enough to outlaw gay marriage will quickly reverse course.”

 

The topic has stirred up plenty of debate on iReport, both for and against same-sex marriage. See more of the conversation here.

 

Silent rave-goers get down on Tel Aviv beach

 

Journalism student Erik Sahlin shot this video of a ‘silent rave’ on the beaches of Tel Aviv, Israel, on May 4 where partiers donned noise-canceling headphones and danced the day away. The fad began in Europe, but has quickly spread to all corners of the world as a fun, unique way to get a party going at any hour, in any locale.

 

“[Party-goers] rent headphones that are connected wirelessly to the DJ who is sending out the music,” he said. “People were loving it, and it created a bond between those who were attending it. I also tried it out myself and it felt like being in your own world together with others.”

 

Are interesting stories going down where you are, or do you have an opinion you're dying to share? You could be a selection in next week's Best of iReport roundup: Share your story.

Posted by: jmsaba // May 18, 2012
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Posted in: week_in_ireport
CNN iReport Awards: Compelling Imagery »

Editor's note: The iReport Awards recognize the best in participatory journalism from around the iReport community. You can see the nominees in all of the categories and vote for the Community Choice Award at the CNN iReport Awards website.

 

The best images grab you and tell a story on their own. It takes creativity and skill to pair images in a way that tells a powerful narrative.

 

The iReports nominated in the Compelling Imagery category are all very different.

 

Some are heartbreaking, others are dramatic and some are whimsical and fun, but each used captivating imagery to deliver their messages:

 

Hundreds live on one-acre island

 

 

During a mission trip in Uganda, Charity Deane visited the island of Makusa in Lake Victory and documented the challenging conditions the villagers face. The one-acre island is home to more than 400 people. The villagers live in tiny huts with no electricity or running water.

 

Deane’s iReport shares a glimpse of everyday life in a place that most viewers are unlikely to ever see.

 

Dubai time-lapse

 

 

Richard James Bentley’s time-lapse view of Dubai captures the frantic, go-go energy of the ultramodern city. Cars zipped between skyscrapers, fountains danced and boats raced through the water.

 

He also filmed jellyfish and other aquatic creatures floating along at their own pace.

 

Occupy Wall Street: Day 23

 

Fourteen-year-old twins Anna Otto and her sister Rachel convinced their father to take them to New York so that they could be a part of the Occupy Wall Street protests last fall. The sisters shot video from the protests and Anna edited it into this energetic video.

The video has intensity, condensing many scenes from Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park into a story that gives a sense of what it was like to be at the protest.

 

Are you okay with human slavery?

 

 

Renee Hong used animation techniques to draw attention to the problem of human slavery for an art project last summer, and shared this video for cnn.com/freedom. Footage of a person sewing, a woman putting on make-up, and someone standing in a field, take on a sinister feel when overlayed combined with startling facts information about forced labor, prostitution and child soldiers.

 

Hong’s video gives the horrifying statistics about human slavery even more emotional power.

 

Catman of Key West

 

 

Lulis Leal says she fell in love with Dominique Lefort’s performances with felines in the 1980s on her first trip to Key West, Florida. Her fondness for the famous street performer and his cats shines through in her photographs.

 

The pictures also give a sense of the joy and satisfaction Lefort seems to feel as his feline co-stars perform their tricks.

 

Taking a stand to end slavery

 

 

Another submission for the CNN Freedom Project made the compelling imagery category this year. Sunny Yang just needed a dry erase marker and a white board to create a powerful message against human slavery. The South Korean teacher used stop-motion photography to illustrate a woman being freed from chains.

 

The animation was simple, sweet, and creative, and made her webcam vow to make a difference even more heartfelt.

 

You can vote for your pick for the Community Choice Award at the CNN iReport Awards website and you can share your story at CNN iReport.

Posted by:
 
davidw
// May 17, 2012
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Posted in: ireport_awards
iReport roundtable: Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET »

Please join us here in the blog for our weekly roundtable discussion. We're excited to share the details about a fun new assignment that was inspired by the iReport community.

 

We'll also be happy to answer any questions you have about the CNN iReport Awards or anything else you want to talk about. In the meantime, if you haven't checked out the 36 nominees, please do! You can vote for your favorite for the Community Choice Award once every 24 hours until June 11.

 

Comments will open at 2:30 p.m. ET. We look forward to talking with you then!

Posted by:
 
davidw
// May 17, 2012
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Posted in: community
CNN iReport Awards: Original reporting »

Editor's note: The iReport Awards recognize the best in participatory journalism from around the iReport community. You can see the nominees in all of the categories and vote for the Community Choice Award at the CNN iReport Awards website.

 

Storytelling is the cornerstone of everything we do at CNN iReport.  iReporters share interesting stories with the world every day, many of which would not of have otherwise been told.

 

The nominees in the Original Reporting category of the CNN iReport Awards found amazing stories - some in their neighborhoods, some on the other side of the word. They also told their stories with skill, craftsmanship and creativity. Their iReports add depth and perspective to CNN's newsgathering:

 

 

Walking with the wounded

 

Jaco Van Gass

 

Chris Bennett was driving near his house in London, England, when he saw a man dressed in camouflage dragging car tires around a park. Bennett thought it would be an interesting photo opportunity, so he stopped the car and went to talk with him.

 

He met British Army Pvt. Jaco Van Gass, who lost his arm and was badly wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan. Bennett interviewed Van Gass about his Army career and his difficult recovery and learned that he was training for an expedition to reach the North Pole on foot.

 

Return to South Sudan

 

Southern Sudan

 

Roseann Dennery witnessed this homecoming in south Sudan while working for a relief agency in the war-torn country. A bus carrying returnees arrived in the Bahr el Ghazal region in February after south Sudan voted for independence.

 

Dennery said the first person she talked to said he lost everything when he fled the fighting 15 years ago and that he had feared he would never be able to come home again.

 

Spontaneous ground zero celebrations

 

 

New Yorker Miriam Cintron rushed to ground zero when she heard that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed. The streets were filled with people celebrating the news.

 

Cintron captured the festive scene and asked people how they were felt when they heard the news. One Marine described himself as the happiest man in the world and others said they felt patriotic. Her story captured a slice of history.

 

First same-sex marriage in the military

 

Same-sex marriage

 

Navy Lt. Gary Ross and his partner, Dan Swenzy, tied the knot at midnight on September 20, 2011, just as the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy expired.

 

iReporter Mark Collier attended the wedding and shared a warm and intimate view of a moment in military history.

 

Child witches of Nigeria

 

Toby Binder spent 10 days at a children's home in Nigeria and documented the treatment of children accused of witchcraft. He said the children suffered abuse and neglect after being branded as evil.

 

Binder's photos show the difficult conditions the children face, but he also captured moments of happiness as the children played.

 

What does it take to be a real gladiator?

 

 

Tracy Bymoen visited a gladiator school at Roman amphitheater in Trier, Germany and met the modern-day warriors who carry on the ancient fighting traditions.

 

Instructors train for 12 hours a day for years to become full-fledged gladiators and hold boot camps for visitors who want a taste of the lifestyle.

 

You can vote for your pick for the Community Choice Award at the iReport Awards website and you can share your story at CNN iReport.

Posted by:
 
davidw
// May 16, 2012
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Posted in: ireport_awards
iReporters help bring back 'Nikita' »

There was no shortage of TV series that were left on the brink of cancellation - last month when we asked iReporters which of the shows “on the bubble” they wanted to see saved.

However, just like “Chuck” in 2009, one show emerged above the rest.

“Nikita,” the action adventure series which finishes its second season Friday on the CW (which is partially owned by Time Warner, owner of CNN), was far and away the most popular “bubble” series on iReport.

“‘Nikita’ is one of the most underrated TV shows on air,” said Sandi Leung of Toronto, Ontario.

“It's one of the rare shows that is filled with its action packed scenes, comedy, romance, and so much more. It incorporates so many different elements, which makes it a perfectly balanced show.”

Leung is such a fan that she has actually met several cast members, including Maggie Q and Lyndsy Fonseca, at home in Toronto (where the show is produced).

“It has so much more to give, and only giving the show two seasons wouldn't be enough,” she posted to iReport.

The great news for fans like Leung is that “Nikita” will continue to give: A third season, thanks in part to these fans’ efforts on social media, was picked up by the CW on Friday.

Nina Talverdian of Los Angeles was another of the many who sung the show’s praises on iReport.

“’Nikita’ has well-rounded eye-catching characters with acting talent and sex appeal; impressive stunts that would blow anyone away and a refreshing plot that unexpectedly twists and turns,” she said.

Deanna Wigney of Ottawa, Ontario - who considers herself a member of the “Nikitaverse” fan group – agrees: “This show is pretty much my escape from reality, and I know it is for other people as well.

“Our protagonist is strong and complex, and her acting is fabulous. [‘Nikita’] has amazing writing, outstanding cast members and the stunts are so cool!”

Leung added, “You can’t ignore the stunts,” pointing out that Maggie Q does her own stunt work.

In response to these fans mobilizing on iReport, show creator Craig Silverstein told CNN, “Thanks to all our fans who succeeded in the effort to save ‘Nikita!’  You will be remembered and showered with rewards.”

Are you a "Nikita" fan? Post your thoughts on the show's renewal below, and stay tuned in 2013 for another "Save my show" assignment.

Posted by:
 
hhanks
// May 15, 2012
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Posted in: stories
Pundit of the Week: CNN iReport Awards edition »

Editor's note: This week's Pundit of the Week focuses on the nominees in the Commentary category of the CNN iReport Awards. We chose the six thought-provoking nominees in this category from the thousands of iReports that were approved for use on CNN in 2011. You can see all of the nominees and vote for the Community Choice Award at the CNN iReport Awards website.

 

One of the most exciting things about CNN iReport is that it gives everyone an opportunity to speak their minds about the issues that matter to them. The nominees in the Commentary category of the Second Annual CNN iReport Awards tackled a variety of topics – some controversial, others more personal – but they all brought passion to the conversation:

 

Osama death overboard

 

Betsy Mitchell was troubled by the celebrations that followed the news that U.S. Navy Seals had killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a raid last May. Mitchell, a college student in North Carolina, said bin Laden needed to be stopped and that she wasn't sorry that he was killed, but she felt that it was wrong to celebrate anyone's death.

 

Her stance wasn't particularly popular and her iReport started a fiery debate. Mitchell took a lot of criticism in the comments, but she explained herself calmly. She may not have changed her critics’ minds, but her reaction led some commenters to respect hers.

 

99 problems and the debt ain't one of them

 

In July, when President Barack Obama and House Speaker Sen. John Boehner were debating the nation's financial crisis, the producers of "Little Luis" -- an animated series about a six-year-old boy and his adopted family -- set out to poke fun at the leaders on Capitol Hill. They found plenty of comic material. In this piece, a discussion between Obama and Boehner devolves into a televised slap fight while Little Luis and his family watches at home. "I don't like this show," the Little Luis said. "You can't tell which is the good guy, or the bad guy."

 

C.R.Celona, one of the creators, said that he wanted to make the serious point that most people in Washington don't seem to get that Americans need help, not politics as usual.

 

Ode to Borders

 

 

Melissa Fazli was sad to lose her neighborhood Borders when the bookstore chain went out of business last summer. She said it had nice activities for her kids and was a good place to meet friends for coffee. Borders wasn't just a faceless corporation to her, it was part of her community.

 

Her video tribute added a personal perspective to the corporate bankruptcy story.

 

I won't take down my Confederate Flag

 

Byron Thomas, a black college student in South Carolina, sparked an interesting debate on race and symbolism when he challenged an order to take down the Confederate Battle Flag in his dorm room. Thomas said the school told him it violated their policy against racist symbols, but he said he was just showing his Southern pride.

 

He said he felt that the flag was not racist, and that only an ignorant person could make it racist.

 

In memoriam: Steve Jobs

 

Apple tribute

 

Cartoonist Brixton Doyle posted this touching tribute to Apple founder Steve Jobs after his death in October.

 

Doyle offered his condolences to Jobs' family and friends and thanked him for the many advances that Apple's products helped create.  He also pointed out that his iReport was created entirely with Mac products.

 

Rewriting Huckleberry Finn is ridiculous!

 

Writer and motivational speaker Omekongo Dibinga said he thought it was wrong to remove the n-word from new editions of Mark Twain's classic novels "Huckleberry Finn" and "Tom Sawyer". He reacted with anger when publishers announced they were printing a new edition of the classics, and replacing the word with “slave.”

 

He said that kids need to know that word's painful history, so they don't use it as a term of affection. “We have to be real about who be are; not be politically correct about our history,” he said.

 

If you've got something to say about what's going on in the news, we would love for you to share your thoughts with CNN. You could be the next Pundit of the Week.

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davidw
// May 15, 2012
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Posted in: comments, ireport_awards
Announcing the CNN iReport Awards »

iReport Awards image

 

The CNN iReport Awards are back!

 

We are thrilled to honor the best in participatory journalism in 2011 and to celebrate the unique personal perspectives the iReporters add to CNN's newsgathering.

 

In 2011, CNN approved almost 15,000 stories from iReporters all over the world. The iReport team gathered a small army of CNNers from across the network (who work with iReport every day) to help select the 36 nominees. The iReport Awards will be awarded for the six categories that represent the areas that make iReport special: Breaking News, Commentary, Original Reporting, Compelling Imagery, Interview and Personal Story.

 

We've put together an all-star panel of journalists, innovators and storytellers to judge the awards (meet the judges), and we want you to participate, too.

 

You can help select who is the Community Choice Award recipient by voting for the nominee that you feel best embodies CNN iReport in 2011.Beginning today, you can choose from any of the 36 nominees in the six categories and vote once every 24 hours until June 11. The iReport with the most votes will receive the Community Choice Award.

 

Now, here's where it gets really exciting -- we're thrilled that we'll announce the final award recipients during the first-ever iReport Award weekend June 22-24! The weekend-long event will feature in-person workshops and panel discussions at CNN's World Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, with more details to come.

 

You can check out all of the nominees on the CNN iReport Awards site and don't forget to vote for your pick for the Community Choice Award.

 

Congratulations to all of the nominees and a huge thank you to every iReporter for being a part of this adventure in newsgathering!

Posted by:
 
davidw
// May 15, 2012
 1 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: community, ireport_awards
iReport Awards weekend: Learn from the best »

You might hear us say that we're excited about the iReport Awards weekend quite a bit over the next few weeks. That's because we are. We've wanted to host a conference here at the CNN Center for a few years now, and it's fantastic to see it become a reality.

 

One of our favorite ways to give back to our awesome, talented and inspiring iReport community is to provide feedback on the stories you share each day. Whether we're offering tips through the iReport boot camp or in special roundtable discussions, there's nothing more gratifying than to offer iReporters the tips and skills to tell even better stories. Likewise, it’s valuable for us to hear from you and get your perspectives on how we can improve the iReport experience.

 

And so it only makes sense that during the iReport Awards weekend, we'll host a day of in-depth talks, panel discussions, and hands-on sessions with CNN staffers and industry insiders at the CNN Center aimed to give attendees valuable knowledge and journalism skills that can be used throughout their lives to be a part of the stories that are important to them. It also gives us a chance to learn from you, and hear your thoughts and perspectives on the changing media landscape.

 

Below is a sampling of what you can expect:

 

Ethics in Media: CNN Sr. Editorial Director Richard T. Griffiths will lead a fascinating discussion on the tough decisions that journalists face when covering breaking news and other stories.

 

Photography tips: Attendees will have a hands-on opportunity to learn from a group of professional CNN photographers as they share their secrets on how to capture and edit unforgettable photos.

 

Vimeo Video School: Andrea Allen, one of the creative brains behind Vimeo Video School, will share a special citizen-journalism-focused version of her best advice on shooting and editing a video that the internet will love. Allen is the Director of Production + Community at Vimeo and a 2011 iReport Awards judge.

 

Mobile journalism mini-class: Victor Hernandez, News Futurist at CNN, doesn't just have a cool title -- he also knows about all of the coolest gadgets available to journalists. In this course, he'll show off some of the latest technology CNN uses to get stories back from far-flung places, and how to make the most of it as a citizen journalist.

 

The art of storytelling CNN Digital's top writers will share their perspectives on what makes a good story, and answer iReporters' questions.

 

But that's not all! Check back soon for information on additional discussions and panels. We hope you're as excited as we are.

Posted by:
 
katie
// May 15, 2012
 2 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: community
Introducing the iReport Awards – June 22-24, 2012 »

We have some exciting news to announce: The iReport Awards are getting bigger. Last year, we launched the Awards as a way to honor the best examples of participatory journalism from the iReport community in several categories, including: Breaking News, Commentary, Interview, Original Reporting, Personal Story, and Compelling Imagery (see last year's winners).

 

Now we’re extending the Awards into a weekend-long event.

 

From June 22-24, we’ll host a real-life gathering and celebration of the iReport community here at CNN Center in Atlanta. The weekend events will include exciting opportunities for a select group of attendees to meet and mingle with CNN staffers and the iReport team, sessions designed to share journalism experiences and discuss the changing media landscape, and – of course – a fabulous iReport Awards ceremony. The iReport Awards weekend is a way for CNN to demonstrate its commitment to participatory journalism and the amazing stories we’re able to find and cover and share thanks to the iReport community.

 

You can find more information about the event below.

 

Location

The weekend events will be held at the CNN Center and surrounding locations in Atlanta, Georgia.      The festivities will kick off at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center with a networking mixer on Friday night. On Saturday, attendees will participate in in-depth talks, panel discussions and hands-on sessions with CNNers and industry insiders at the CNN Center, followed by the Awards ceremony at nearby Ventana's. And on Sunday, the weekend will wind down with breakfast and optional one-on-one time with the iReport team back at CNN’s headquarters.

 

Hotel information

iReporters attending the iReport Awards are encouraged to make hotel reservations at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center. A special group rate discount of $143.00/night is available. To make a reservation, just call (404) 659-0000 and let the receptionist know you’re reserving a room under the “CNN iReport Awards” group block. Attendees are welcome to make hotel reservations elsewhere, but will be responsible for arranging their own accommodations and transportation.

 

Transportation

Shuttle service will be provided to and from the CNN Center and other events scheduled during the Awards weekend. Attendees will be responsible for any other transportation needs outside of the Awards ceremony.

 

Special VIP Tour of CNN

Attendees will go behind the scenes of CNN’s worldwide headquarters in a special VIP tour that includes an exclusive opportunity to go inside our state-of-the-art HD Studio 7, where most of CNN's daytime broadcasting takes place.

 

Who can attend?

Attendance will be limited to iReport Awards nominees and special guests. Any remaining slots will be open to an application process. We do hope to expand the number of attendees for future iReport Awards events. Stay tuned for more details!

Posted by:
 
katie
// May 1, 2012
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Posted in: community
Same-sex marriage, Whiskey Row blaze: The best of iReport this week »

It was a busy week at the iReport desk, from the same-sex marriage debate to recall primaries in Wisconsin and the death of a beloved children’s author.

 

Here are five stand-outs you shouldn’t miss:

 

Wisconsin recall moves forward

It's been the year of the recall for Wisconsin, and iReporter Mediaman has been documenting every step of the campaign to oust GOP Gov. Scott Walker that began when he curtailed the collective bargaining rights of state employees. The iReporter was in Madison on Tuesday for the state’s recall primaries and shot photos of the candidates and imagery from the campaign. Voters will return to the polls in June for the general election pitting Walker against Democratic challenger Tom Barrett in a re-match from last year. "Seeing the climatic conclusion in June will be one for the record books, and the textbooks," Mediaman said.

 

'Just move to Canada'

After North Carolina voters passed an amendment on Tuesday defining marriage as solely between a man and a woman, iReporters across the U.S. got on camera to share their reactions. Anne Yates and her wife, Claire, said they moved with their two boys to Calgary, Alberta, four years ago because of the discrimination they felt in New Hampshire. They argue that the passage of the same-sex marriage ban teaches people that "it's OK to hate gays and lesbians," Yates said. "I swear, all people from North Carolina should just move to Canada."

 

Go here to see other perspectives on the debate and reaction to President Obama's declaration of support for same-sex marriage this week.

 

Blaze on Whiskey Row

Prescott, Arizona's historic Whiskey Row caught fire again on Tuesday, more than a century after the street was destroyed in a 1900 blaze. Videographer Deborah Gallegos was at the scene Tuesday night while flames engulfed three businesses on Montezuma Street -- known as Whiskey Row for the saloons that once lined the block. Crowds gathered across the street on the courthouse square watching plumes of smoke and fire rise from the buildings with "sadness to lose this bit of history."

 

Inside a Soviet prison

During a March visit to Germany, videographer Tracy Bymoen got a private view inside a Pottsdam prison used by the Soviet Military Counterintelligence after World War II to hold thousands of people. She got a tour of Memorial Leistikowstraße as the director prepared for the permanent exhibition's April opening, and said she "felt chills down my spine seeing the isolation and standing rooms."

 

Wild things in mourning

Childhood fans of the classic story "Where the Wild Things Are" mourned author Maurice Sendak's passing this week. Matty Horn, in Pomona, New York, still believes "deep down that I am Max, ruler of the 'Wild Things,'" and credits the story with helping him become a confident leader in adulthood. He was one of several people we heard from who loved the the book so much they tattooed scenes from it on their bodies. He made this diptych of his forearm, which he initially shared with iReport via Instagram.

 

Is news happening where you are, or do you have an opinion you'd like to share? You could be part of next week's Best of iReport. Share your story here.

Posted by:
 
dsashin
// May 11, 2012
 15 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: week_in_ireport
iReport roundtable: Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET »

Please join us here in the blog for our weekly roundtable discussion. We want to talk about how we can use social media to bring your iReports to a wider audience. Y'all put a lot of work into your stories, so we want as many people to see them as possible.

 

Right now, we focus most of our social media efforts on Facebook  and Twitter, but we're also active on Instagram (See our photos, Get the app) and Pinterest and we're always experimenting when new sites come online.

 

How do you think we're doing? Are our posts on Twitter and Facebook helpful? Should we be doing something different? Do you think we should be more active on other sites? Where do you spend most of your time online?

 

Comments will open at 2:30 p.m. ET. We'll look forward to talking with you then and we'd love it if you invited friends you think would be interested in iReport.

Posted by:
 
davidw
// May 10, 2012
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Posted in: community
iReport Debate: Vote on the issues »

 

We asked what issues matter to you this election.

 

More than 400 people participated. Between the personal stories and the breadth of topics, we were overwhelmed with the response to part one of the iReport Debate.

 

From your iReports, CNN identified the top 20 themes. Now we’re asking you to help us narrow down the field.

 

Drag and drop the issues here to rank them by importance to you. Submit your vote for the top 10, and your votes will determine what issues make it to the next round of the iReport Debate. Your votes will shape the questions that we’ll ultimately take to Obama and Romney.

 

Voting will close at 11:59 p.m. ET on May 23. The top four to six issues will make it to the next round of the iReport Debate – and that's when the real debating begins! We'll invite you to share your views on those topics and go head-to-head with other iReporters around the country.

 

If you feel your top issue is not represented in the list, we encourage you to let us know. Feel free to sound off with your top pick.

 

Thanks for your participation so far. We’re excited to move into the next part of the debate, so don’t forget to vote! If you’ve got any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

Posted by:
 
zdan
// May 9, 2012
 13 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
iReport Pundit of the Week: Bobby Davidowitz »

 

Floridian Bobby Davidowitz, 33, is an Orlando-based entrepreneur. Though he’s currently plying his trade as a hip-hop mogul, he discovered a surprise passion for politics during the 2008 election cycle, and has been a voracious consumer of all things political ever since.

Davidowitz is our pick for Pundit of the Week.

Affiliation: “I’m an independent. My main issue with politics is how complex issues are being dumbed down. People are looking for simple answers to complex issues, and this is where we go wrong. Both sides, in essence, are right and wrong. There’s an answer right in the middle, if we can agree on it, then we can move forward.”

How did you first get interested in politics?
“Two things: The rise of Barack Obama and the decline of the economy, and basically the country. I’m not one to keep mentioning Bush, it wasn’t a one-man problem. But we were lulled to sleep while the economy was fine, and once things got rough I woke up and said ‘I’ve got to start paying attention!’ Before the last election, in ’08, I wasn’t engaged.”

Why do you share your opinion with iReport?
“You guys have made it easy to have an avenue, a platform. I watch so much of this stuff, and there really isn’t that much of a chance to express your opinion, but you have to let it out somewhere! The problem is, people are so sensitive about politics. Once politics gets raised, you can feel the awkwardness in the room.

“… Now that I’m so engaged in politics, I want to run for office at some point. I’m an entrepreneur now, but when I reach a certain level of knowledge in economics and history, it’s something I want to do, and iReport gives me that platform.”

Who is your political or journalistic hero?
“The top one right now is [MSNBC’s] Rachel Maddow. She hits on issues that not everybody’s talking about. There are a couple of main issues that get played over and over and over again on the main news channels, and a lot of the time they’re all covering the same stuff. Maddow digs into these local, niche stories that people aren’t talking about and puts them in a larger context. We need more of that.”

What do you think is going to be the defining issue of the 2012 election?
“The economy. We have not seen Obama side-by-side with Romney. When they do, Obama’s going to give specifics about what he’s going to do, and has already done. You don’t hear that with Romney. You hear Obama-bashing, and generalities about small government and lowering taxes.

“… Obama’s going to sound like the guy who is pro-investment in the economy, which is what I believe in. Romney is going to have to pander to the right, and say ‘cut cut cut!’ As a businessman, I can tell you, you can’t survive that way.”

What’s something unique about you that people might be interested to know?
“I’m an entrepreneur, CEO of Fourth Quarter Entertainment. We have two hip-hop and R&B producers who are signed to our company, and a hip-hop artist. Our main focus right now is to help him break out. With the new economy of the music industry, you can do this independently. You’ve gotta build your own grassroots company, and then you can choose whether or not you even need a label. That’s where I’m at with it right now.”

Follow Davidowitz here on iReport and you’ll get to see his rock-solid commentary on your customized homepage. And if you’d like to take your shot at becoming the next Pundit of the Week, now’s your chance: Join in the discussion on iReport.

Posted by: jmsaba // May 8, 2012
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Posted in: pundit_of_the_week, community
'Avengers' smashes box office records and moviegoers' expectations »

 

The star studded "Avengers" cast must be celebrating, as the superhero blockbuster broke every movie record, racking in over $200 million dollars in the box office this past weekend.

 

Surely chump change to someone like Tony Stark, but "The Avengers" definitely jumpstarted this season’s summer blockbuster movie lineup.  If the record breaking numbers weren’t enough, moviegoers poured out of the theaters raving about it, despite New York Times' A.O. Scott’s lukewarm film review.

       

 

Moviegoers much like Zennie Abraham from Oakland, California who delivered a sea of compliments into a camera as he shot a film review for iReport. He said it was one of the best superhero movies he has seen recently. "Frame by frame we see that these characters are ordinary people with extraordinary powers," he said.

 

"In the movie, we feel like we are getting to know the characters as much as you do in the comic books, and because of that you have a great story."

 

      

 

"Avengers" put the "marvel" in marvelous, according to Allen Mealey who saw the movie in Los Angeles, California. "You need to watch it," he said over the phone. "You won’t find anything better, everyone was going berserk afterwards." It was the witty one-liners that got him.

 

"We were laughing the entire time," he said. "Back in the day superhero movies were so dark, and they were literally shot in darkness, but this movie was a superhero buddy movie."

 

But Daylan Stubblefield was not laughing when he saw the endless lines formed inside the Chicago-based movie theater he attended. He says the theater lines were worse than an amusement park ride. But after watching the movie he sang nothing but its praises. "This movie was so action packed and emotional. It hit every single feeling all of the Avengers had," he said.

 

Abraham says "The Avengers" is more than a superhero movie. "It takes us to a place we have never been before with characters we really wanted to meet," he said.

 

More like home for some moviegoers. Mary Kravenas said when she entered her Chicago theater it was like stepping into a comic book convention. People were dresses up as the super heroes from the movie, donning the iconic red, white and blue from Captain America and the Steampunk green and black cape from Loki.

 

"It really came together well," she said. "I think there were a lot of people who were worried about the movie focusing on Iron man or Captain America, but they did a great job creating the ensemble."

 

In the end, "The Avengers" was an ensemble of extraordinary characters Stubblefield said, "they were human, but also super human."

Posted by:
 
Jareen
// May 7, 2012
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Posted in:
Stories from around the globe: The best of iReport this week »

From Fort Stewart, Georgia, to Dagupan City, Philippines, we received dozens of interesting stories from iReporters around the world this week. Here are five standout iReports you may have missed.

 

Octopus and his mobile home

 

There are two things that we can all agree on here at team iReport: Animal videos are pretty great, and underwater animal videos are even better. So you can imagine how thrilled we all were when we spotted this video from Robert A.S. Suntay of an octopus creating a makeshift home out of a tin can. He spotted the resourceful creature in Anilao, a popular diving location in the Philippines.

 

“Octopi are very smart but shy critters,” explained Suntay. “That's why I had to be really patient just waiting for it to see me, get used to me, and then react by dragging its home around. After trying to move away from me a couple of times, at the end of the video, you can see that it finally decides to just enter its can and cover itself with a shell. Brilliant move!”

 

Obamas visit Fort Stewart, Georgia

 

iReporter Amy Proctor stood in 90-degree heat for four long hours last Friday waiting to see the President and first lady at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Fortunately, she says the wait was worth it. Proctor, who got a ticket to the event through her husband’s unit, captured some fantastic photos as President Obama spoke out against deceptive practices by "diploma mills" -- for-profit colleges that lure military personnel and veterans. Despite the fact that she’s not an Obama supporter, she said “it was a great experience.”

 

Grilling in the streets

 

Another iReport from the Philippines made our list this week. Christopher Domingo shared photos from Dagupan City’s traditional Bangus Festival, which features grilling thousands of bangus, or milkfish, in the city streets. “It is a celebration of the fruits of hard work and sacrifice of all of the people who were involved in the industry, leading to a rich and bountiful harvest,” Domingo said.

 

May Day in Paris

 

We received dozens of iReports from May Day celebrations and protests around the world, but this video from Paris, France, stood out from the rest. Adrian Westbrook shot fantastic footage of the crowds filling the Boulevard Saint Germain Tuesday afternoon with his Canon 7D. While Westbrook, a self-described “casual observer,” said there were many different groups and perspectives represented in the march, “the dominant theme appeared to be an all-encompassing disdain for the incumbent president and a proprietary reclamation of the May Day festival itself.”

 

Samurais on parade

 

And a different type of procession took place in Kyoto, Japan, on Thursday as hundreds of people dressed up as samurais for the city’s annual Akechi Mitshuide Festival, which celebrates the famous samurai and his lasting legacy. “Hundreds of samurai-costumed people marched around the old city,” said iReporter Chieko Ohkuma, who shared photos of volunteers in elaborate handmade costumes.

 

Thanks to the above iReporters and everyone who shared original stories this week – it’s always fascinating to see what’s happening around the world.

 

Is news happening where you are, or do you have an opinion you'd like to share? You could be part of next week's Best of iReport. Share your story here.

Posted by:
 
katie
// May 4, 2012
 5 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: week_in_ireport
iReport roundtable: Thursdays at 2:30 p.m. ET »

Hello, iReporters! Please join us here in the blog for our weekly roundtable discussion. We are looking forward to talking with everyone about what's going on in the community. We'll be talking about the latest stories and assignments on the site.  If you have any thoughts or comments about iReport this week, let us know.

 

If you have questions, suggestions or concerns, this is a great time to share them. We'll open comments at 2:30 p.m. ET. If you can't make it then, feel free to private message anyone on the iReport Team or email david.williams@turner.com.

 

We look forward to speaking with you soon!

Posted by:
 
davidw
// May 3, 2012
 87 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: community
May Day Occupy protests: Fired-up or fizzled-out? »

Yesterday, the Occupy movement kicked off a planned renaissance – an "American Spring" – as thousands of demonstrators took the streets of cities around the world. The protests took place on May 1 in solidarity with International Workers Day, a holiday meant to commemorate the struggles of laborers and working-class folks around the world.

 

Occupiers were largely dormant during the winter months, which led many to speculate that the movement had fizzled out. CNN published an op-ed by Amitai Etzioni this morning arguing that yesterday's "underwhelming" protests were proof-positive of this assertion.

 

But iReporters told a different story.

 

 

Occupiers massed in New York City's Union Park and marched down Broadway for several hours, straight through the heart of Manhattan. Photographer Joel Graham initially went to the march as a neutral observer, but admitted he began to feel an emotional connection to the demonstrators:

 

"At the Vietnam memorial, a chant broke out: 'Antagonize! Antagonize! Antagonize!' My impression is that the Occupiers plan on sustaining their efforts until change is made," he said. "There is some concern that some smaller radical groups might manipulate the protests by provoking violence but I don't get the impression (just the opposite) that the Occupiers want that reputation."

 

 

Bostonian Adam C. Powell had a similar experience. He was on his way home last night when he saw a group of Occupiers marching through Copley Square. “I hope that by sharing this clip, I will help others see the current level of unrest in America. While it is debatable whether the protesters are right or wrong, the one thing that is clear is that they are unhappy,” he said.

 

Pastor Reginald C. Norman, Jr. documented the protests in downtown Los Angeles, California. He shot portraits of demonstrators assembling and readying for a march through the center of the city. "It seems that they are frustrated with the slow progress of changing things for the better, but they haven't given up hope," he said.

 

 

And on the other side of the pond, photographer Teresa Teixeira witnessed and participated in street demonstrations in Lisbon, Portugal, loosely connected to the U.S. Occupy movement.

 

"The demonstrators seemed strong in their convictions, but this day was specially used to show the people's discontent, and an alert to the government," she said. "There is obviously the will to carry on future changes, and these have to be guaranteed by the people organized in groups of interest, not the government any more!"

 

Are there Occupy protests in your area? CNN iReport wants to hear from you: Share your photos and videos, or tell us what you think about the movement.

 

[An earlier version of this blog post included a photo of demonstrators who may not have been affiliated with the Occupy movement.]

Posted by: jmsaba // May 2, 2012
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Posted in: stories, occupy_wall_street
iReport Pundit of the Week: Fresh faces, hot issues »

The iReport Debate is well underway, and we've received plenty of scintillating commentary from our passionate community of pundits. Followers of our Pundit of the Week feature know that we've got a strong community of regular politics-watchers, but we've seen plenty of fresh faces arrive since the launch of the Debate.

 

Each of them brings a new perspective to the table, and we're excited to highlight some of the excellent work these new folks have been doing. So this week, we're tipping our hat to four of our excellent new pundits and awarding them joint honors as Pundit(s) of the Week!

 

 

Ron Paul supporter and staunch libertarian Stephen Monahan of Brooklyn, New York, ranks information and internet freedom as the issue that's got him motivated to cast his ballot in the 2012 elections. "I believe the government has way too much control, and putting the internet into the government hands is a red flag," he said. "I immediately think of North Korea and how they have complete control over what the population has access to online."

 

 

Obama lookalike and supporter Jose Williams was a frequent presence on iReport during the 2008 elections, and has returned for another round of commentary and punditry. He sees the coming election as a stark choice in direction for the U.S., a choice between a more individualistic or communal society.

 

He favors the latter: "With America being the most powerful and influential country in the world, our choice in President can send us down the wrong road to the extinction of man or down the good road of peace, harmony with other countries, the environment and humanity," he said.

 

 

David A. Seaman hails from Lansford, Pennsylvania, and is a self-described gay member of the GOP. Though he leans conservative on a variety of fiscal issues like taxes, gun control and individual liberty, he's concerned that his party isn't so inclusive towards members of the LGBTQ community: "I want less government, to own my own gun and to be independent. Sounds great, but when I tell you I'm gay it's a bit of a conundrum."

 

"I would like to see the GOP stop using religion as part of their platform to run," he said. "I would like to see the GOP embrace diversity and uphold their conservative ideals to their country and economy."

 

 

Marijuana-reform activist Frank Mattioli is a liberal Democrat who believes that the U.S. should work to legalize cannabis and hemp. He shared his thoughts on the changes he would like to see made to U.S. drug law: "I think the best step would be federal recognition of marijuana as a medicine. Ideally, I believe it should be legal and regulated similar to tobacco or alcohol, but realistically I know it's not that simple," he said. "Baby steps are the best way to go about it."

 

Fresh faces and hot issues, as only iReport can do it. If you're eager to join in the debate and hash it out with the iReport community, now's your chance. You could be the next Pundit of the Week!

Posted by: jmsaba // May 1, 2012
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Posted in: pundit_of_the_week, community
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