The latest and greatest on CNN iReport, brought to you by Team iReport.
Ever wonder who's following your iReport activity? Who's reading your stories the day you post them? Who's paying attention to all your iReport favorites? Who are your #1 fans? (Besides Team iReport, of course)
Today we're introducing a new feature that lets you see just that.
Before today, only a list of the users that you follow would appear on the left sidebar of your profile page. We knew iReporters wanted to see who was following them — they let us know through emails and comments on our monthly Roundtable discussions — so we're excited to introduce the new feature.
Now, under the "Followers" label you can see how many users are following YOU, along with their usernames, avatar images and their bios. The list is also available for public view, a common feature on other social media sites as well. And you too can see everyone else's followers by visiting their profile pages.
Well? What are you waiting for? Go quench your curiosity!
And if you have an idea for a killer new feature that we haven't thought about, let us know in the comments. We're listening.
* No connection to the NSA — that we know of.
Hooray! There is a fresh face on team iReport! Our summer intern, Julia Carpenter, joined us a few days ago and she is already vetting breaking news stories and creating topical assignments. We are clearly keeping her busy.
Amidst all the work, we asked Julia to write a little bit about herself. She's got an impressive background and we wanted her to share a bit about herself with the rest of the community:
Hi, I'm Julia. I'm an English and journalism student at the University of Georgia and will be graduating from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in December.
I've reported on sexual harassment scandals, reviewed Dorito's tacos (they were "sad and sandy"), Storified local elections and interviewed the guy behind the New York Times haiku.
Prior to iReport, I worked at Esquire.com, ELLE magazine and The New York Daily News. Also, I worked at The Red & Black, my college newspaper.
Last month, I traveled through Japan with the Roy W. Howard National Collegiate Reporting Competition and am now a hopeless sushi snob. My perfect Saturday involves at least three of the following: friends, family, Diet Coke and Atlanta Braves baseball. I'm looking forward to working with the iReport community and connecting with its members on Twitter and Tumblr.
Say hello to Julia in the comments below! We're excited to welcome her to the team.
One of the cutest videos of all time on CNN iReport is now the most viewed iReport ever, as a feisty debate continues about whether it’s really a good idea to invite a wild deer into your kitchen and feed it a baby bottle.
As of Monday, Amy Carrickhoff’s November 2010 video “Spoiled deer getting her bottle” was viewed more than 792,000 times and shared 9,600 times, displacing a popular essay by an atheist mom about raising children without God.
The video is heartwarming with a dash of absurd. Carrickhoff stands outside her house in Oakridge, North Carolina, calling for a deer she has christened "Little Girl." The deer comes out of the woods and jumps on Carrickhoff like a dog wanting to be petted. She scampers up the driveway and follows Carrickhoff into the house, where she then sucks down a baby bottle of goat's milk. When the milk is gone, Carrickhoff dabs the deer's mouth with a tissue.
One of our producers initially spotted the video on YouTube in 2010 and encouraged Carrickhoff to upload to our site. The video was popular with readers from the start, but more than two years later, the iReport resurfaced on several hunting sites and took off anew this past January.
While some animal lovers were touched by the obvious bond Carrickhoff had with the deer, hunters and wildlife rehabilitators felt she wasn't doing the doe any favors. They said she was allowing the deer to get too comfortable around humans and could have been hit by a car, been shot by a hunter, or hurt someone.
“You just gave this animal a DEATH SENTENCE - you also have put all your neighbors and their children at risk of being attacked where this deer matures and when she doesn’t get fed, she attacks someone,” one reader wrote, one of about 250 comments on the iReport.
We recently caught up with Carrickhoff (username deermommy2), a ticket agent for United Airlines, and asked her a few questions about her viral iReport.
Carrickhoff's first comment was that if she had known the video would get so many views she would have changed out of her gym clothes. As for the deer, sadly, the update isn't a happy one.
Little Girl continued coming back for bottles until around January 2011, when she moved onto regular deer food, Carrickhoff said. The size she is in the video is as large as she ever got. Carrickhoff last saw Little Girl in October of that year. Something just seemed wrong, she remembered. Carrickhoff watched as the deer appeared to have a seizure.
“She walked off into the woods and we never saw her again,” she said. “We combed those woods … we never found anything.”
Looking back, Carrickhoff said getting to know the deer was a special experience that she doesn’t regret.
Friends had brought Little Girl -- apparently orphaned as a baby -- to Carrickhoff's home because the woods in their backyard were protected, and the deer would be safe from hunters. School children loved visiting the gentle creature who would lick them with her soft tongue and didn't mind being petted.
Carrickhoff is confident that she didn't overly domesticate the animal. Even when Little Girl was bottle-fed, she lived in the woods and did “deer things,” Carrickhoff’s daughter said. The deer gave birth to a baby of her own the following June, and toward the end, she wouldn’t come when she was called. She was becoming wild again.
She and her husband got so attached to Little Girl that they don’t ever want to take care of another animal.
“I just watch the videos and she kind of lives on,” she said.
Curious about the other most-viewed iReports of all time? You can check them out here.
As anti-government protests have swept across Turkey in the past week, CNN iReport has received more than 800 photos, videos and stories from people on the ground. While some of these reports are original and have been verified by CNN, many others aren’t.
Everything you see on iReport starts with someone in the CNN audience, and the stories are not edited fact-checked or screened before they post. CNN producers will check out some of the most compelling, important and urgent iReports and, once they're cleared for CNN, make them a part of CNN's news coverage. The red “CNN iReport” logo indicates that a story has been verified and approved by a CNN iReport producer. The stories with the black “NOT VETTED FOR CNN” bar are exactly that – not approved for or verified by the network.
As a news organization, CNN reports both what it knows and does not know about a story. Our vetting process at CNN iReport reflects that as well. In situations such as this, with countless accounts (and plenty of misinformation) from citizens spreading across social media and coming in through iReport, it’s increasingly important to curate that content and verify what’s factual.
It’s not an easy job, but it’s one we take very seriously.
This weekend a user posted a story to iReport claiming that police in Istanbul had used Agent Orange against protesters. The story and claims were being widely circulated on Twitter and in other social media, and the iReport itself was seeing significant traffic, even though it was not vetted by CNN and clearly marked that way. We received questions and criticism about why CNN hadn't taken the story down and in response, we followed up with CNN reporters in the field, who confirmed that there was no reason to believe the claims about Agent Orange were true, but that police had been using a colored substance on protesters. So we put an editor's note on the original story to add that additional context from CNN reporting. Again today, we saw a similar issue with a claim that a communications company called Turkcell had received pressure to block communications, which the company refuted, and which we clarified in an editor's note.
In the age of digital journalism and in with cases such as these, we believe it’s more responsible and clear to our audiences to keep content visible and add context and links that explain and clarify it, instead of deleting it completely. As long as an iReporter isn’t purposefully spreading misinformation – which would be a violation of the community guidelines for iReport that govern what is welcome and what is not – we err on the side of keeping that content visible to the public.
In these cases, though, we ultimately decided to remove the stories but leave up the additional context from our reporting because they were so widespread. It’s our job to dig into the content we receive on iReport, sort fact from fiction, and make those decisions as clear and available as we can. We believe this is the best approach for right now.
We often say that we’re writing the rules of citizen journalism as we go along, which is an exciting but sometimes daunting position to be in. It’s our hope that we can be transparent along the way, explain why we make the choices we do, and continue to listen to your feedback. If you have thoughts or questions, you’re welcome to share them below.