The latest and greatest on CNN iReport, brought to you by Team iReport.
We would like to say a big thank you to all the iReporters who have been sharing their eyewitness accounts from Monday’s devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. CNN iReporters have been all over the air helping our network cover the story of the storm and its aftermath.
Jeff Lechus, who captured up-close video of the tornado, spoke by phone with CNN and HLN about his treacherous journey to get to his son’s school. Power lines were blocking the road as far as the eye could see, he said. He got to the school and found that the tornado had hit the gym, but no one was hurt. "Thirteen, 14-year-old girls came out holding hands, just bawling their eyes out."
Anderson Cooper talked on the scene with iReporter Swey Boyd, who works at a doctor's office and stayed in her Honda Accord during the storm. After surviving her first tornado, she headed home but then pulled over and tried to help residents in a neighborhood behind Interstate 35. "It was difficult to realize that there were some people you couldn't help, that you had to wait for professionals. And you just had to tell them, 'It's OK, there will be help on the way."
Stay-at-home mom Rebecca Vitsmun also appeared live from Moore, recounting her narrow escape with her 18-month-old son in her arms. It was pretty cute when the toddler gave Wolf Blitzer a high five. There was an awkward moment when Blitzer later asked if she thanked the Lord and she gracefully explained she was an atheist. The "atheist" moment sparked a lot of buzz online. (And it wasn’t the first time an atheist mom on iReport has sparked a big conversation!)
Nurse Rex Pace, an iReporter who hiked into Moore, Oklahoma and stayed to help try to find victims, spoke with CNN's Chris Cuomo about what he had seen. "I’ve seen a lot of blood and guts and gore in my job, but I’ve never seen any destruction to this degree. It was unreal," Pace told him.
In one of the most dramatic videos we've ever seen uploaded to iReport, Juan Olivo captured the moment rescuers heard the voice of a tornado victim trapped in the rubble. "I can't believe he survived," Olivo told Wolf Blitzer.
Thanks again to the iReporters who shared their stories with CNN. Please take note – getting footage should never come before your personal safety. We urge you to take precaution when documenting any severe weather.
The recipients of the 3rd Annual iReport Awards have been announced!
We've said it before, but one more time won’t hurt: The overall quality of photography, videography and storytelling represented in this year’s iReport Awards was outstanding. Citizen journalism has come a long way since CNN iReport’s humble beginnings in 2006, and the Award recipients are a wonderful testament to that.
Without further ado, here they are:
Breaking news: Hasan Amin, Egyptian revolution rages on
Original reporting: Nicolas Rossier, One breath: Story of a free diver
Commentary: Richard Huffman, My tribute to those lost in Newtown
Compelling Imagery: Judy Starkman, Secret lives of swimmers
Personal Story: Sam Wessels, I speak about autism because I can
In-depth Storytelling: Carlos Chiossone, Superstorm Sandy stories
Community Choice: Erik Olsen, The shoe cobbler
That’s not all!
For the first time ever, we revealed honorees in a new category called Excellence on the Web. These are six examples of the best in citizen journalism outside of iReport in 2012, and we couldn’t be prouder to honor such impressive examples of participatory journalism.
You may wonder why we’d honor stories outside of iReport: A big responsibility of the iReport team is listening to the conversations and stories that take place on and outside of CNN iReport. We’re curators at heart, and this new category allows us to share even more incredible examples of participatory storytelling with the world. Plus, no other major news outlet is recognizing excellence in citizen journalism in this way.
Here are the honorees: (Go here to read more about each entry.)
Humans of New York: Hurricane Sandy: Brandon Stanton, Tumblr
SyrianDeveloper: Mike Blackhatoviche, Instagram
Wright's Law: Zach Conkle, Vimeo
@aiww: Ai Weiwei, Twitter
San Diego fireworks, loud and up close: Dan W. Roy, YouTube
Jersey Shore Hurricane News: Justin Auciello, Facebook
Last but not least, we are thrilled to announce the 3rd Annual iReport Awards Spirit Honorees. These six honored iReporters – Jannet Walsh, Misael Rincón, Rachel Cauvin, Jim Jorstad, Lia Ocampo and Jim Brenneman – are wonderful members of our community, sharing stories that resonate with a wide audience and taking the time to make CNN iReport such a warm and special place. They’re the folks that make running this site such a fulfilling experience, and we couldn’t thank them enough!
Congratulations to all of the recipients and honorees. We are so impressed with all of you and are already eager to do it again next year. We’re nerds for citizen journalism – it’s true.
Now we're off to sneak a celebratory bottle of champagne into the newsroom. Cheers to you all!