Michelle Obama answering iReport questions during China trip »

First lady Michelle Obama has embarked on a week-long trip to China, where she will speak with students at several schools about the importance of education, youth empowerment and the benefits of studying abroad.

 

On Saturday, she’ll sit down to answer several CNN iReport video questions in an exclusive interview. Students, teachers, parents and other iReporters from across the world sent in more than 300 questions for the first lady along with personal stories about studying abroad.

 

This is the second iReport Interview with the first lady. The first one, filmed in 2012, was pegged to her Let's Move initiative.

 

UPDATE: You asked, and she answered. See which questions made the final cut and watch Obama's answers. Thanks to everyone who submitted questions -- it was a wonderful response!

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katie
// March 21, 2014
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Posted in: stories
You're in Travel + Leisure — again! »

 

Remember when we asked you for your best travel tips a few months ago? Good news! Ten of them made it into this month's Travel + Leisure as part of the 100 Ways to Travel Better special.

 

We partnered with Travel + Leisure's editors to pick 10 indispensable travel secrets from among the more than 200 you submitted. From how to pack your suitcase to avoiding lines at popular sights, they're sure to prove critical to your next journey.

 

To see all 10 iReporter tips, pick up the December issue of Travel + Leisure or have a look at the online gallery. You can also view all 100 Ways to Travel Better, or look back on the last time iReporters were featured in the magazine for 100 Places to Eat Like a Local.

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rachel8
// December 12, 2013
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‘Marcus Harun Reports’ and lands a network news anchor »


He first got our attention in a big way when he parodied “The Situation Room,” flawlessly recreating the set from the comfort of his basement back in 2008.

 

Now, at the age of 21, Marcus Harun is hosting is own professional-quality online news show. In the first episode of his monthly iReport web series “Marcus Harun Reports,” he recently posted an interview with former ABC News anchor Charles Gibson, reflecting on how the world has changed since 9/11.

 

“With iReport, you have a power that I haven’t found anywhere else. You’re doing reporting, but you can actually get an audience to see it. I’ve missed posting there regularly so I wanted to do a show throughout my senior year of college before I graduate,” he said.

 

Harun sure has come a long way since that parody of Wolf Blitzer's CNN show, which he produced as a book report on "Lord of the Flies" while in high school.

 

After we were blown away by that first video, Harun became a frequent contributor to CNN iReport. He ended 2008 the way he began it, this time spoofing “Anderson Cooper 360” as “Marcus Harun 360.” The host, the correspondents and the guests? All of them were played by Marcus Harun. Anderson Cooper and crew were so impressed that they featured him on air as “The Shot” that week.

 

Through blizzards and election days, Harun continued to share the news from Hamden, Connecticut and his views on what was happening around the world.

 

This past election year, he shared his thoughts on the campaign as an undecided voter, complete with professional graphics and backdrop, looking more and more like the anchor he aspires to be.

 

“I think iReport is such a great place for citizen journalists to be able to thrive. With this show, I hope to be able to feature other iReporters’ work, get their opinions on topics in the news,” he said.

 

Congratulations on a fantastic pilot, Marcus! We can't wait to see the next episode.

 

Follow Marcus’ latest exploits here and check out his interview with Gibson.

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hhanks
// September 13, 2013
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Journey to the Rio Grande Valley »

Texas is a big state. And though Houston and the Rio Grande Valley are both within its borders, major differences exist in terms of opportunity and culture. Houston teacher Pegah Javidpour led a group of high school students on a learning and community service trip to the Rio Grande Valley near the Mexican border last month. The students volunteered through local non-profits and met with people in the community, which contains a large population of migrant farm workers. They also filed iReports about their experiences.

 

"We first started with the students doing a photography project to capture their experience," explained Javidpour. "But in 2012, we expanded to the students writing iReports to post on CNN about their experience and an issue that they are thinking about as a result of the trip." She found out about iReport through a colleague whose brother works for CNN.

 

We think it's pretty great that the students are sharing their thoughts and observations from the trip with the world, from talking immigration with the U.S. Border Patrol to working alongside migrant farm workers. And we're also thrilled that iReport gave them a chance to sharpen their writing skills and express themselves. You can check out all of their submissions here.

 

Thanks to all the students who shared their stories with us! If you're a Texas student who'd like to find out more about the program, it's part of a partnership between KIPP Houston public charter schools and B.R.I.D.G.E., a nonprofit organization that supports the children of migrant workers. And if your school is working on a project that you'd like to share with CNN, be sure to check out our student voices section!

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rachel8
// July 5, 2013
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How a spoiled deer became the most popular iReport of all time »

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.

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dsashin
// June 5, 2013
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Spring is here and looks like this »

It’s the first day of spring! (In the northern hemisphere, that is.) We teamed up with the CNN Weather unit for a one-day assignment on Instagram using the hashtag #springcnn.

The weather team will be showing some of the best photos on CNN International.

Check out some of the ones that have come in so far, and if you have a smart phone, go here to view all the photos coming in.

Happy spring from the Bronx

Photo by Instagrammer (and iReporter) Rachel Cauvin (@rvcfoto) in Riverdale, New York

 

What spring means to me: Gardening, pups, outdoors

Photo by CNN Meteorologist Jennifer Delgado (@jendelgadocnn) in Atlanta, Georgia

 

Spring peeks out

Photo by Instagram user @sarrill in Rochester, New York

 

Thanks to everyone who joined! CNN International showcased some of the best photos on air.

 

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rachel8
// March 20, 2013
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iReporters skywatch for Comet Pan-STARRS »

By Polina Marinova

 

CNN iReporters were armed with binoculars, cameras and tripods Tuesday – ready to capture even just a glimpse of Comet Pan-STARRS.

 

 

At exactly 7:46 p.m., Brian Karczewski got the shot he had been waiting for in a California church parking lot. Karczewski, 24, captured the comet alongside the crescent moon overlooking the Ortega Mountains. It was barely visible to the naked eye and appeared as "a little orange fuzzy spot," but he used binoculars and his camera to pick it out.

 

"I love astronomy and find astrophotography a good challenge," he said. "I was very excited to capture the comet next to the Moon. Never photographed a comet before!"

 

 

Brian McMahon also waited patiently for the comet to appear. He began snapping photos after sunset in Richmond, California, pointing his camera toward Mount Tamalpais. McMahon said the comet appeared in the photos 30 minutes after the sun had set.

 

 

And in Galveston, Texas, web designer Vadim Troshkin shot this photo for Galveston.com and said he was glad to see the comet during “such a beautiful sunset.”

 

Did you capture Comet Pan-STARRS too (or any other interesting celestial sights)? Share it here!

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dsashin
// March 13, 2013
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You're in Travel + Leisure! »

 

Several months ago, we partnered with Travel + Leisure to ask you for your favorite restaurants to "eat like a local." You know, the fabulous places that aren't mentioned in any guidebooks but serve a heck of a meal. You sent in hundreds of delectable submissions, and we promised that 10 of your picks would be featured in Travel + Leisure's April 2013 issue for their "100 places to eat like a local" special.

 

Well, the time has come! T+L chose their 10 favorite submissions and the issue will hit newstands any day now. We were lucky enough to get an early copy, and were so proud to see your iReports in print. It's the first time iReports have ever been featured in a magazine!

 

Want to see if your eatery was among the 10 printed? Check out the gallery here, or download a PDF of the magazine article. And be sure to check out Travel + Leisure's website for the full list of 100 places to eat like a local.

 

Congratulations to the 10 iReporters who were selected! And thanks to everyone who participated for making us so very, very hungry at our desks.

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rachel8
// March 8, 2013
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Fact check: 10 reasons I won’t miss Chavez »

When rumors started swirling months ago that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had died, one Venezuelan citizen penned a passionate commentary. A piece he saved for the day that Chavez died.

 

Juan Francisco De León, a music teacher who lives in Caracas part-time, published his thousand-word commentary in the form of a comment on CNN’s Chavez obituary on Monday. His comment caught our eye and we invited him to share his perspective on CNN iReport.

 

De León’s words resonated with a wide audience. In less than 24 hours, "10 reasons why I will not miss Chavez" has received almost 150,000 views and more than 26,000 Facebook recommends.

 

As this iReport got so much attention, we decided to take a closer look at the sources and statistics he’s citing in his argument and offer a fact check:

 

TRUE AND FALSE: Even from your death bed, you had a Supreme Court justice fired because she didn't agree with your politics.
De León was correct that Chavez fired a judge, but it wasn’t a Supreme Court justice. Judge María Lourdes Afiuni was arrested in December 2009, and other judges were fired, but she is not a Supreme Court justice, according to Human Rights Watch. Then-Supreme Court justice Eladio Aponte, who is male, was fired from the National Assembly for alleged links to a drug suspect in March 2012.

 

TRUE AND FALSE: In 14 years, our homicide rate more than tripled from 22/100K to 74/100K. While judges were busy trying to prove their political allegiance to you, only 11% of homicides led to a conviction.
De León is right – the homicide rate in Venezuela tripled – but the numbers are different. There were 67 homicide victims per 100,000 in 2012, up from 19 victims per 100,000 in 1998, when Chavez took office. That’s according to the LA Times.

 

FALSE: 10.7% of Venezuelans are in extreme poverty.
Depending on how you define extreme poverty, the numbers vary. As of 2011, 31.6% of Venezuelans live below the poverty line, according to the CIA World Factbook. But, according to "official government figures" in a Guardian analysis from October 2012, there were 8.5% of Venezuelans living in extreme poverty in 2011.

 

CNN confirmed the following claims from De León’s iReport:

TRUE: In 14 years you built less public housing than any president before you did in their 5 year periods. Hospitals today have no resources, and if you go there in an emergency you must bring with you everything from medicines to surgical gloves and masks.

 

TRUE: When you took office, the price of oil was $9.30, and in 2008 it reached $126.33.

 

TRUE: You shut down more than 30 radio and television stations for being critical of your government.

 

TRUE (of course, “manipulated” is an opinion): You manipulated the elections in 2010 to make sure the opposition didn't get more than a third of seats in Parliament even though they got 51% of the popular vote.

 

Like most iReporters, De León isn't a trained journalist.  But he’s someone who has been active in online discussions about Venezuela, and we're glad he shared his personal views with CNN.

 

Numbers aside, De León's sentiment stands and his commentary rang true with many readers. We invite you to read his perspective and weigh in with your thoughts on Chavez.

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zdan
// March 6, 2013
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Tons of wet snow in Kansas City brings giant snow things »

In the past week, the Kansas City, Missouri, region has been hit with two rounds of wet, heavy snow. The blizzards have caused plenty of  trouble – caved roofs, downed power lines, fallen tree limbs and  treacherous roads.

 

But on the upside, we now have lots of giant snowmen. And snow Frankensteins. And snow super heroes. And at least one snow fortress. Here are a few of our favorites this week:

Towering Snow Bob

In Pleasant Hill, Jeremy Newman sent this shot of his kids Wyatt, 6, and Camryn, 3, with the towering 8-foot snowman they made and named last week. As you can see, Snow Bob's legs are taller than the children!

They packed the snow in a rubber trashcan (which is why Bob has legs instead of the typically round snowman body). Newman, who stands 6-foot-3, had to stand on his tip-toes to slide Bob's head on.

Sadly, Bob melted away on Sunday.

FrankenSnowman

In Overland Park, Kansas (a suburb of Kansas City), Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer had a challenge for his daughter, Alexandra: Build a snowman taller than a 12-foot snowman featured in The Topeka Capital-Journal Sunday.

Alexandra, along with two friends and her younger sister, spent four hours building a 13-foot "FrankenSnowman" Wednesday. Things got tricky once they reached 8 feet:

"Two of us would be filling buckets while one would be on top dumping them or catching snow chunks we tossed up to fill in the cracks. More than once you'd see a girl slide down a 10-foot mountain of snow or get a have a mini avalanche in their face."

Snow preppers?

Matt Noonan, an engineer in Kansas City, looked outside his door Wednesday to find his neighbors -- some college students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City -- constructing this elaborate fortress around their house while listening to “inspirational video game music.”

“I went outside and gave them an extra shovel because they were using their hands, sleds, and even a snow board to scoop the snow. They were very appreciative and promised they'd shovel my driveway as a thank you,” Noonan said. “They were more than welcome to all the snow on my property.”

Super Snowman!

Lastly, this one wasn't in Kansas City, but we just had to share this Super Snowman in Lansing, Michigan. Ryan Shapiro, a snowman-making novice, worked with his friend Steven Saules (slightly more experienced at this) to create the iconic character in Shapiro’s back yard Tuesday night.

 

The pair started out making an old-fashioned snowman. “Once we were done we realized we had no sticks or carrots but we DID have spray paint and butter knives,” Shapiro wrote in an email to CNN. They worked through the night using red wall paint, blue spray paint, gray primer and butter knives to sculpt and paint the figure.

 

Got a great snow creation to share? Upload it here! As always in severe weather conditions, please do not put yourself at risk.

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dsashin
// February 28, 2013
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After tragedy, vacationers recall glorious balloon rides in Egypt »

It is considered one of the highlights of a trip to Egypt -- a flight on a hot air balloon over the temples of Luxor, seat of power for the country’s ancient pharaohs and home to some of the country's most spectacular sites.

 

But on Tuesday, one flight turned to horror: Nineteen tourists were killed Tuesday when their balloon in Luxor exploded and plummeted to the ground.

 

Here on iReport, vacationers who had taken similar rides were quick to share their images and experiences.

 

While the crash has led to some raising questions about the safety of such balloon flights, previous travellers were quick to praise the efficiency and professionalism of their Egyptian hosts.

 

"I felt very safe and in fact remember thinking that the pilot and crew for my balloon were overly cautious and constantly on the radio, monitoring the other balloons in the group to ensure we didn't collide," said Gene Roth, who took a balloon ride in Luxor in July 2010.

 

 

"There was a full safety briefing prior to the flight and reminders along the way."

 

Business owner Thomas Stevens from Astbury Park, New Jersey, said he found news of the crash particularly sad because of the “calm and peaceful experience” he had enjoyed, watching the lush green fields of Luxor serenely sail by in the cool Egyptian morning air.

 

He took the trip in November 2011. "It must have been terrifying [the crash], because the ride itself is such a calm and peaceful experience, normally," he said.

 

Aside from a slightly bumpy landing, Mac Hopkin and his wife, retirees from near Dallas, Texas, had no complaints about what he described as “one of the highlights” of their Egypt trip in 2008.

 

“We didn't feel in any way that it wasn't as safe as air travel could be," he said."The crews seemed reasonably proficient, and judging from the number of balloons, [flying] is a very frequent occurrence."

 

Florida resident John Baldwin and his wife, who undertook a balloon flight in 2007, admitted they were taken aback by the 26 people permitted in the balloon’s basket, but said they felt fairly safe.

 

"I was saddened to hear of the deaths in Luxor, but since we took our ride in 2007 there must have been tens of thousands of safe flights," he said.

 

"Air travel, whether in an air plane, helicopter or balloon, has certain risks."

 

But for at least one vacationer the experience was an unnerving one shesaid she would not repeat.“The balloon almost crashed down,” said Denise Pereira, who visited Egypt from Curitiba, Brazil, last June.

 

“On my video you can see the balloon suddenly coming down and hear the pilot screaming 'landing position!' while the balloon goes directly to the wires and then to the houses.  While the scenery was stunning, she acknowledges she boarded knowing nothing of the equipment’s maintenance or the crew’s qualifications.

 

“We were lucky, there was time to get back the altitude and we had no explosion,” she wrote in her iReport. “[But it was] My first and last balloon flight... ever!”

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sarahbrowngb
// February 27, 2013
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How to get a byline on CNN.com »

You might have noticed something really cool happening lately: Three iReporters have had bylined opinion pieces on CNN.com!

 

iReport's focus has primarily been on photos and videos, but earlier this year, we started to receive some insightful, well-written essay submissions, too. First was Deborah Mitchell's compellingly titled "Why I raise my children without God," which soon became the most-viewed iReport of all-time. It was so good, in fact, that we did something we’ve never done before – we decided to run it on CNN’s Belief blog, where it received more than 1,600 comments. Last week, Richard Lucas penned a beautifully-written testimony about anxiety that ran that on CNN.com as well. And just yesterday, veteran iReporter Cynthia Falardeau published a fantastic piece on the Oscar Pistorius saga.

 

We’re thrilled to be able to show off iReporters' writing talents and thoughtful insights on CNN.com, and so proud of the iReporters who have earned bylines so far. We'd really like to see more of your personal essays and opinion pieces, so we've created this assignment to collect all your essay submissions, with the hope of running the best ones on CNN. Of course, writing a piece like this is often highly personal and can be difficult, so here are some tips to get you started if you'd like to give it a shot:

 

Pick the right topic. When you’re writing a commentary, opinion piece, or personal testimony, think about your passions. You need to feel strongly about what you’re writing and believe in your words. If you’re not engaged in the topic, pick a new one, because you don’t stand a chance of engaging your reader. If your subject is in the news at the moment, that’s great, but it doesn’t have to be if it’s compelling enough. Deborah Mitchell's piece on religion didn’t have a news peg, but it was something that she felt strongly about, and that passion came through.

 

Make it personal. You know the saying "write what you know?" It’s especially applicable here. When you’re thinking about essay topics, pick something that you can bring a unique perspective to, or something that you have expertise on. As someone living with panic disorder for five years, Richard Lucas could speak about it with authority. And Cynthia Falardeau brought a fresh angle to the Pistorius story by talking about her experiences with her son, who is also an amputee.

 

Show, don’t tell. One strong anecdote makes a point better than a paragraph full of generalizations. Be specific and try to avoid cliches. In Falardeau's article, she tells us a story about meeting a man at her gym that hammers home the thesis of her piece in an instant.

 

Let your voice shine. Imagine you're telling your story to a friend. Then write it using those words and that tone. Your piece should feel conversational, like you’re just chatting with the reader. Don't try to be formal or use words plucked from a thesaurus. It's your story, so tell it in your own voice. You can even try reading your piece out loud to yourself. If it doesn't sound like you, then try again.

 

Don’t marry your text. This one might be the most difficult of all, and as writers, we empathize completely. But you're going to have to edit your piece. You may really love that one little side note you included, or how you phrased a particular point, but if it doesn't support your thesis or move your story along, it has to go. Try to keep your piece to 1,000 words or less – you can say almost anything in that amount of space, trust us. And know that, if we decide to run your story on CNN.com, we'll make some edits ourselves. We'll work with you and make sure we keep the meaning of your piece intact, but if we brutally slash something that you loved, know that it's not a commentary on you – we just want to make your story the best it can be for when it hits the big time.

 

Excited? So are we. Get typing and share your pieces on our essay assignment. And leave any writing/editing questions in the comments – we'll do our best to answer them.

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rachel8
// February 20, 2013
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Posted in: stories, community
Why we love the Harlem Shake »

Last Sunday, some members of the iReport team found themselves dancing like fools on a MARTA train. My husband's sketch comedy group was behind the madness, and it was all to be part of the Harlem Shake -- the latest viral meme that's sweeping the Internet.

 

 

In case you're wondering, that's me in the crazy scuba diver helmet, Nicole rocking out with the lemur, and Germain showing off some sweet umbrella dance moves. You can watch the video here, as long as you promise not to judge us too harshly!

 

For the uninitiated, the Harlem Shake is a hip-hop dance and the title of a 2012 instrumental track produced by Baauer. In the past week, though, the song spawned a series of 30-second dance videos that start with a masked individual doing the Harlem Shake solo in a group before cutting to a wild dance party featuring everyone on screen.

 

At this point, it's nearly impossible to keep track of how many Shake videos there are in the world. People have taken the meme into offices, underwater, at a concert arena, and inside a fire truck. And while all of the videos are different, they're all ridiculous and hilarious and fun.

 

So, why exactly did the Harlem Shake take off? Because it's simple, fun to participate in, and, most importantly, structured. We've long observed that crowd-sourced projects that have clear boundaries allow people to be super creative within those limitations, and the Harlem Shake is a fantastic example of that. The videos all use the same song and start with one person dancing, then erupt into craziness once the beat drops.

 

At its basic core, the videos are simple. The dorm room one that really kicked off the trend likely took a few minutes to execute. But because of the simplicity and set rules of the meme, people have been endlessly creative and ambitious when it comes too pulling them off. And the popularity of the videos is no surprise, either -- viewers know that watching is only a 30-second investment of time with a great payoff towards the end.

 

Plus, there's wild dancing and crazy costumes in unexpected places. What's not to love? We only wish that we kicked off the trend first!

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katie
// February 13, 2013
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Posted in: stories
The hoax that brought NASA to CNN iReport  »

space photo

 

The headline was alarming, and the story of a Texas-sized asteroid on a collision course with Earth would have been absolutely terrifying – if it wasn’t absolute nonsense.

 

An iReport posted recently claimed that the Nibiru asteroid would slam into the Earth and used a fake news article as evidence. CNN producers quickly dismissed the story, but that didn’t stop it from being recommended more than 10,000 times on Facebook. In case you’re new to iReport, all iReports are user-submitted, and have the words "NOT VETTED BY CNN" stamped across the top until someone at CNN talks to the submitter and confirms the information (you can learn more on our About page. Because this story was so popular, we decided to add an additional note that it was not confirmed by CNN and provided a link to additional information.

 

Most of the people who commented on the story didn't seem too worried about it. Some made jokes, while others did their own detective work and declared it a hoax.

 

iReporter balefire97 said folks just need to relax:

 

"Being born in 1979, this will be the 49th doomsday I have lived through. If memory serves me right, the last 48 weren’t very memorable, nor accurate, but that may go without saying, so I predict this one is going to be equally uninteresting and equally false. Tinfoil hats for everyone!" he wrote.

 

NASA saw it too, and they weren't thrilled. They've been pretty busy knocking down various "end of the world prophesies" in the months leading up to the Mayan Apocalypse. Some people believe it is coming on December 21, because that's when the end of the 5,126-year cycle on the Maya's Long Count calendar.

 

We talked with the senior editor of the NASA website (who used to work here at CNN) and encouraged him to participate in the conversation, so that the thousands of people who were going to iReport would also be able to the real story. He agreed and created the NASAWeb iReport account.

 

He said the story was "absolutely false" and that "if Nibiru were real and headed for Earth, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade." He also said that if it Nibiru was about to hit the Earth it would be visible to the naked eye, so you'd be able to see it for yourself. You can read more about Niribu and other apocalypse hoaxes on the NASA website.

 

We are always looking for space stories here at CNN iReport, so if you're an amateur astronomer we'd love for you to share your (true) stories with us. In the meantime, we've got our fingers crossed that NASAWeb will hook us up with some future astronauts or give us the Mars Curiosity rover's phone number.

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davidw
// December 1, 2012
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Posted in: stories
Presenting your iReport local news team »

There are quite a few aspiring journalists honing their skills on iReport. We caught up with five iReporters who have turned their journalistic dreams into a career in journalism.

Kyle Aevermann has been a constant presence on iReport since 2008, discussing his thoughts on everything from “American Idol" to one of his favorite annual events, Black Friday. This year, he took on a role as weekend anchor, reporter and morning producer for KOBI-TV in Medford, Oregon.

“I think that being part of iReport really helped me shape my philosophy as a journalist,” he said. “I want to use my position to give people a voice.”

Katy Brown joined the team at WCHS/WVAH-TV in Charleston, West Virginia, in just the past few months and she's already on air. Describing herself as a “one-man band,” she’s responsible for being the photographer, reporter, editor and writer for all her stories.

She credited her time on iReport with developing a very specific skill set.

“When I was iReporting, I was watching debates and speeches for the 2008 election. I trained my ear for things that didn't seem right or were just odd. I would then take off from there, researching or voicing my opinion on whatever caught my ear. Now, I do the same thing. I listen really close to interviews and sometimes catch things that maybe I wasn't supposed to or no one else caught.”

Ashley Porter made a big impression right away on iReport with stories from the Boston area, such as the star-studded “Hasty Pudding” event and the Boston Marathon.

It wasn’t long before she was working in local markets like West Palm Beach, Florida, and Austin, Texas. She’s currently a multimedia journalist at WTSP-TV in Tampa, Florida.

“In college, iReport was what inspired me to dig for stories about people making a difference,” she said, referring to her iReport about a man walking across the U.S. gathering peoples’ messages for then-President-elect Obama. "I never thought about using those stories to get my first job out of college, but I put them in a portfolio and, thankfully, it worked.”

Chris Soriano caught our attention with his very first iReport: a video poem in honor of the movie “Moneyball.” The San Diego resident went on to report for KYMA-TV in Yuma, Arizona, starting less than a week after he attended the 2012 iReport Awards in June. (He is now a weekend anchor.)

“I learned that the vital component about being a reporter is throwing yourself in the story and overcoming your fears of what others might think,” he said.

“I was a shy person when I first started as an iReporter. I was afraid of what people might think as they passed me by on the street as I'm filming myself doing a story, but the more I did it, the more the confidence it built inside me.

Abbey Niezgoda, whom we first caught up with last year, is now a multimedia reporter for Providence, Rhode Island’s WLNE.

“iReport gave me an outlet to measure my work through view counts and comments, beyond my inner-circle of friends and colleagues,” she said. “And while not all of my iReports were popular or received positive feedback, that only helped me grow the thick skin needed to survive the broadcast world.”

We’re tremendously proud to have contributed – if only in a small way – to the new careers of these reporters.

Have you been able to apply your experience with iReport to your own career? Let us know in the comments.

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hhanks
// November 20, 2012
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