The latest and greatest on CNN iReport, brought to you by Team iReport.
We've made a few important changes to iReport lately that help ensure that the site remains a fair platform where everyone has the same access to share their stories with the world.
First, we updated the “Featured iReporters” section on our Explore page from an automated module to one that's editorially curated. This allows us to highlight new iReporters around the world each week who have interesting stories to share. This week's list of featured iReporters includes a photographer in Croatia, a self-described "feminist geek," and one of our most prolific and outspoken political pundits. Be sure to visit it regularly to meet new community members and follow their work!
Secondly, we made a change to our Terms of Service stating that users are prohibited from using pay-per-click websites or other automated systems to artificially inflate page views. This is an issue that we take extremely seriously. iReport is a platform that gives everyone the opportunity to share their stories and views with the world, and we do not condone community members abusing that privilege by tampering with page views.
Those of us on the iReport team work hard to represent the diversity of voices in our community as we select which iReports to vet and highlight every day on CNN.
One question we get asked a lot if how we choose while iReports to vet. What we approve for use on CNN depends largely on the top news stories of the day and what fun and/or creative assignments we've launched –- airplane window photos, anyone? No matter what the topic, though, we always look for the best quality content to approve. It's not about page views or favoritism. It's a matter of approving the best original stories out there and helping shape what CNN covers and how.
(If you're looking for advice on how to get vetted, we’ve got you covered! Check out our past boot camps for some helpful tips for writers, photographers and videographers, and some of our seasoned iReporters shared their own advice on recording video commentaries at this month's roundtable.)
It's incredibly important to us to ensure that iReport is a fair, interesting, engaging and fun place for everyone to contribute and get their voice heard. If you ever feel like that opportunity is being compromised, then please let us know in the comments below or email Community Manager David Williams. We're here to listen and help improve the iReport experience for everyone.
There's less than one week left to win a trip to the convention city of your choice on CNN's dime. Will you be one of the lucky six golden ticket winners?
You'll be right in the middle of the political action at the CNN Grill, where lots of delegates, pundits and CNN anchors will be milling about. There will also be opportunities to meet some top CNN staffers.
iReporters will have exciting activities planned, including photowalks, special dinners, and maybe a surprise or two. To enter, send us an original video or photo of yourself telling us why CNN should send you to Tampa or Charlotte during the political national conventions.
Make sure you start off your submission by saying this phrase:
My name is _____________ and I want CNN to fly me to Tampa!
My name is _____________ and I want CNN to fly me to Charlotte!
The rules are there for a reason, so please keep videos to 45 seconds or less and photo submissions to 150 words or less.
Upload your iReport to the contest assignment here. The deadline for submissions is August 5, so don't delay!
If you have any questions about the contest, feel free to leave a comment here and we will respond.
Please join us for our monthly roundtable. We have a new format this week, and plan to focus on video commentaries on iReport. We even have a few special guests that many of you will know.
We look forward to seeing you at 2:30!
Photographer and iReporter Brian Day documented life on the job for firefighters in Detroit, Michigan, off and on between 2009 and 2012.
He recently shared his photos with iReport, and CNN International put together this piece with Day telling the story of his project and his feelings toward the subjects.
"Many of my childhood friends have worked as Detroit firefighters over the years," he told us. "I've always been impressed with the dignity firefighters display in spite of an often negative perception in the city, as well as quite perilous working conditions."
You can see more of Day’s work on his website, brianday.org.
There are countless stories to tell with photography. Got one to share? We encourage you to upload original photographs that were taken this year and tell us the story behind the images.
- You agree not to use any service, technology or automated system to artificially inflate the page views that your iReport receives. This includes pay-per-click services, web "robots" and any other current or future technologies. You also agree not to direct any third party to use these services, technologies or automated systems on your behalf.
- You agree not to use any technology, service or automated system to post more iReports than an individual could upload in a given period of time. You also agree not to direct any third party to use these services, technologies or automated systems on your behalf.
We made these changes to make it explicitly clear that "gaming the system" to artificially increase page views is not allowed. If you have any questions about the changes, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
You might notice a little change in the Explore page starting today. We replaced the "Most active iReporters" section with a new "Featured iReporters" section.
The new section is editorially curated and will be updated regularly, in order to better maintain balance and diversity, which means exposure for more of you.
Check out featured iReporter profiles and give them a "follow" or leave a comment on their reports. We're sure you'll find something you like.
Hello everyone, my name's Sarah Brown and I'm the new producer for CNN iReport, based in London, England. I'm absolutely thrilled to be joining such a talented team and looking forward to sharing your stories with CNN and the wider world!
I come to CNN after more than a decade of working in participatory journalism, first at the BBC where I specialised in Middle East content, then at Al Jazeera English, where I worked in Qatar and then Washington DC, U.S to cover the 2008 US election. After that I went into the non-profit sector for a while, working on digital advocacy for Oxfam and the Women's Resource Centre. I'm interested in using new journalistic platforms to tell your stories, which means I already feel right at home here at iReport!
All of which brings me to the here and now with CNN. The iReport team felt it was of paramount importance to expand their amazing work internationally, and this is where I come in. I'm looking to expand the wonderful iReport community globally, bringing in the best, most exciting, most pertinent content from across the world.
And that's where you come in. We want to hear from your part of the world; what stories are interesting where you are? What would you like to show us and the iReport community? Which parts of the world would you like to hear more from? We're lucky to have a great story to kick off with - the Olympic and Paralympic games in London - so how about we start with that? We're looking for the sights and sounds of the Olympics, from the games themselves in London to whatever you're doing to participate in your corner of the world. Send in your iReports or drop me a message here. It would be great to hear from you!
San Diego Comic-Con has always been a popular event for iReporters, but this year more than ever, iReporters were part of the convention itself, and one of the more high profile events surrounding it.
It all kicked off just a few days before Comic-Con when Cherry Davis took part in the Course of the Force, a lightsaber relay for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
"It was a great event to benefit a charity granting wishes to sick kids and combine that with running down the street with a light saber chasing Jabba's Barge it's a no-brainer!" Davis said. "Sitting on a shuttle with the other participants of all ages, race and nationalities, for me was a once in a lifetime opportunity."
Then on Monday, it was Fazli's turn to run the Course.
The relay ended up in San Diego, California on Wednesday, the morning before the Con began, and Cherry was there, of course to iReport about it.
Then on Thursday, award-nominated iReporter Alan Kistler and Holly Golightly (best known for having a “Star Wars”-themed wedding complete with “Slave Leia” costume) appeared on the panel, “How to Get News Coverage.”
The pair were among several experts in comic book publishing and the comics media who shared tips on how to reach out to the press to let them know about comic book projects.
(It was also great to get Golightly's thoughts about the 70th birthday of Harrison Ford, featured on CNN Geek Out.)
It’s also become an annual tradition for Tommy Yune to conduct a “Robotech” panel for his adoring public (which iReport producer Nicole Saidi witnessed for herself a few years ago and this year was certainly no different.
Everyone was thrilled to meet the duo at the recent meet-up and they ended the convention with the approppriately titled panel “How to Create Your Own Novel” on Sunday.
“We talked about creative writing method and we talked publishing with a literary agent," said Brittany Winner. "It was a dream come true.”
“We thought, oh, it would be the end of the Con, no one would show up," said Brianna Winner. "The room was filled.”
About the meetup, Brittany said, "We love CNN iReport, I’ve been looking at CNN.com for years. We started posting iReports and then to actually meet these people. It was great to meet them and talk about iReports.”
A little bird tells me that the Winners and Yune have some amazing iReports from the Con cooked up for us. In the meantime, check out some of the great photos and video of costumes, celebrities and more here, and thanks to everyone who contributed!
Are you a college student? Do you want the coolest internship ever?
Then we not-so-humbly suggest that you apply to be our CNN iReport fall intern! The full-time, paid internship is located at CNN Center in Atlanta and is open to currently enrolled college students (course credit is available). You only have two weeks left until the deadline, so get to it.
Our intern will be a full-fledged member of team iReport, which means producing content for CNN.com, vetting iReports, working with the community and helping us come up with great ideas for the future. He or she will also have the opportunity to learn from professionals across CNN.
Questions? Doubts that our internship is really as neat as it seems? Leave a comment below, or ask Jake, our current summer intern (at right in the photo above) – he’ll give you the real deal.
Don’t forget, you only have two weeks left to apply. Go here for more details and to send in your application now.
Superheroes, pop culture, costumes: It's fandom paradise at this year's San Diego Comic-Con.
I had a chance to nab Henry on the phone, and for a few moments live vicariously through his recap of the iReport meet-up, which was held at Joe's Crab Shack in San Diego.
"At the meet-up there were a lot of people that left an impression on me," Henry said, with less than an hour of sleep between Wednesday night and Thursday.
Joyce Chow was at the Shack. "It was really cool to met her because she is known for her 3-D videos," Henry said. Chow uses a special filter on her videos to order to craft a 3-D effect.
Comic-Con veteran Mark Zhen was also in attendance. Zhen's been to the Con more than 20 times, so he knows his pop culture. And who could forget Zennie Abraham, a reliable iReporter who always shows up and brings along what Henry calls "a big force to the meet-up," including actress and author Stephanie Thorpe.
The biggest highlight of the gathering was having the Winner twins, Brittney and Brianna, there with the rest of the crew. The Winner twins are best known for their award-winning sci-fi book "The Strand Prophecy." Although only seventeen, the twins are recognized for their authorship and are participating in the Con with their own booth and panel discussion.
The genesis of their sci-fi writing started at an early age when their father encouraged them to write books, Henry explained. The twins also had a chance to meet legendary science fiction writer Ray Bradbury before his passing. "They were really enthusiastic about meeting the iReporters," Henry said.
There were some fresh faces at the Shack, too. "We met some new people who were interested in iReport," Henry said. "They started following the iReport SDCC account via Twitter and saw the meet-up and decided to show up."
One memorable fresh face was Kristina Meek, who discovered the iReport meet-up through social media. "She took a leap and came to the meet-up," Henry said, "It was nice to see some new people, and see how eager she was to learn about iReport."
Even with all of the mania of the Con, iReporters still got together to hold a meet-up that was filled with creativity, fun and all this things Comic-Con. Thanks to everyone who dropped by!
Are you at the Con? Send in your pictures and videos to CNN iReport.
The gloves are off and the debating has begun!
We held our first head-to-head iReport Debate last week and judging from the hundreds of comments, we struck up a heated conversation.
iReports came pouring in after the Supreme Court's decision to uphold President Obama's health care plan. We selected two iReporters from both sides of the ruling – one who supports Obama’s plan and one who is against it -- to square off in a debate. The iReporters were chosen because of their great video submissions to the health care iReport Debate assignment.
In one corner, Egberto Willies, a Democrat from Kingwood, Texas, supported Obama’s plan. His wife has lupus and he fears that without this law, she would lose her insurance.
And on the other side was Mark Ivy, aka iReporter k3vsDad from Farmersburg, Indiana. He is disabled and on Medicare, but opposes the plan. He predicts the law will increase the cost of coverage.
We asked you to watch the video and tell us who won the debate in the comments. The votes were split pretty evenly.
"I agreed with Egberto because I think an overwhelming majority of people in [k3vsDad]'s condition would breathe a sigh of relief from this ruling," commented iReporter rosehips. "I realize his costs have gone up, as everyone's have."
On the other side, iReporter mab91c put it quite simply in his comment: "k3vsDad - Winner; concise, factual." He found Willies' arguments too "big government" for his style.
However, the majority of the conversation in the comments centered on the larger debate over health care in America.
"I agree that there needs to be a fix, but I don't believe that Obamacare is it," said iReporter ABarker. "I believe that what's going to happen is that Obama, Romney and the other 1% will be able to maintain their private insurance while the rest of us will end up in a government-run health care system."
Ultimately, the ruling is all about perspective, as iReporter pgcounty stated elegantly: "The health care ruling was right for some, and wrong for others. The problem is individual preferences that are controlling to assess what is right or wrong about it."
What did you think of the first head-to-head debate? Let us know what you liked and where we could improve
Basilio, a 2011 iReport Awards nominee, was about as great an iReporter as you could ask for in his video commentaries. He was brutally honest, had lots of stories and thoughts to share, and loved participating in the iReport Interview series as well.
During the 2008 election, we knew we could count on him to say something interesting about the latest twists and turns of the election, always delivered with a positive attitude.
Basilio was a great member of the community, and I'm just sad the iReport team didn't get the chance to meet him.
He was also much beloved on other social networks and one only need to look at the large number of tributes to him to see how much he meant to the greater online world.
Basilio was nominated for an iReport award for personal story in 2011. Here is the video he posted about his experience with bullying, a great example of his style of video commentary.
We'll miss you, Ryan.
You may have noticed a bunch of thumbprints popping up on our site in the past 24 hours.
Here’s why: Mexico held presidential elections on Sunday. CNN wanted to hear from voters, but the country prohibits showing or mentioning any kind of information regarding the presidential candidates or parties during election day. So instead of asking voters for their opinions, as we often do during elections, we asked people to upload photos of their ink-stained thumbs proving they voted, along with why they felt it was important to participate.
On Monday, Enrique Peña Nieto was the projected winner of the nation's presidential vote, with between 37.93% and 38.55% of votes. His victory marks a return to power for the political party that ruled Mexico for more than 70 years before losing the presidency in 2000.
In the weeks before the election, students and other activists known as “Yo soy 132” marched against corruption in Mexican politics and Peña Nieto’s possible return to power.
David Olivera, a Texas student who shared the thumbprint above, and said he and his friends were disappointed but not surprised by the outcome. He holds dual American and Mexican citizenship and voted in Huixquilucan, near the house his family owns in Mexico.
“I got depressed and went home to rest, write my feelings on Facebook, Twitter, and CNN, and then just think to myself it's a choice we have to respect now,” he wrote in an email to CNN. “So now we need to make this country (Mexico) a better place for all Mexicans and future generations. The change of this country is in everyone's hands, not only the president’s.”
If you’ve been following the Mexican elections, what do you think about the outcome? Share your thoughts on iReport and they could be included in CNN’s ongoing coverage.
On iReport, we invite people around the world to upload stories, photos and videos that they think deserve attention from a wider news audience. Everything that's posted receives a very visible "Not Verified for CNN" banner, and a team of moderators reviews the posted content and pulls material that is flagged by the community as in violation of iReport's Community Guidelines.
iReport receives, on average, 500 iReports a day, and a fraction of those are approved for CNN's non-user-generated networks and platforms, which involves fact-checking and verifying the details of a story. When a story is approved, the "Not Verified for CNN" bar disappears and is replaced by a red "CNN iReport" bug that lets the community know a story has been verified. Our producers also give iReport stories extra context, by adding producer notes with further details, CNN reporting, and/or additional quotes from the iReporter.
Sometimes people post deliberately untrue stories on iReport -- about celebrity deaths, for example. Hoaxes are one of the risks of user-generated content and at CNN we take them very seriously. Fortunately, they have been few and far between on iReport. The number of real, important and excellent iReports is far greater than deliberately untrue stories. Just this past week, for example, our site was filled with people sharing their photos and videos of the wildfires in Colorado, views on the Supreme Court's health care decision, and first-person stories from voters in Mexico's presidential election. These stories matter and they're why we are confident in and excited about the future of participatory journalism.
We'd love to hear from you: Are incidents like death hoaxes part of the territory of citizen journalism? What questions do you have for iReport's editorial team? We look forward to reading your comments below.