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The Year As You Saw It

Aired December 24, 2006 - 17:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: Wicked weather. Sudden disaster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my goodness...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was like a bomb went off.

ANNOUNCER: Nature's fury.


ANNOUNCER: News, as it happens. Told in a new way.

KERRY RAWE, I-REPORTER: My name is Kerry Rawe.

ANNOUNCER: Online and on air all by you.

RAWE: And i-Report...



T.J. HOLMES, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Yes, it's time for us to recognize a very special CNN reporter.


HOLMES: That's you.



NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen. You were on the scene, on top of the story and right in the right place at the right time. Your tools of the trade, a camera, a cell phone, a Blackberry, even your own words. From the tragic to the touching to the titillating, you sent us your images, you sounded off and you made your mark.

HOLMES: CNN created i-Report so that you, the viewer, could share your experiences all with the click of a button. You became part of the most trusted team in news, so this hour is dedicated to you. And one of our most dramatic i-Reports is also one of the first sent us to. This video is from a very ambitious i-reporter named Kerry Rawe. Rawe was watching CNN and saw a story about an explosion in Carlinville, Illinois. He headed to the scene, he even did some on the spot interviews.


RAWE: The whole town just fell hush.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just the loudest explosion I have ever heard.

RAWE: It's like a bomb went off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was just so much black smoke and so much debris everywhere, you really couldn't tell which house was on fire.

RAWE: A woman and her two children were in the home taking a shower, the gas line exploded, it killed the mother and one of the children. The other child is being searched for.

When I saw the flyover shot and I heard the anchor talk about i- Report I immediately said, well, I have a camera, I'm close by. I'm going jump in the car real quick and see if I can get some footage and get it on the air.

I have a high-speed Internet connection so uploading to CNN i- Report was it actually pretty easy. It was a Web page. It was all Web based. I used a Web browser to navigate the page, uploaded the files. I got a phone call within a half hour and verified the files were good. Pretty painless.

Hi, my name is Harry Rawe and i-Report for CNN.


NGUYEN: Yes, he does. Lay people becoming news people. From the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination to the Rodney King beating to the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, amateur news gatherers have captured some of the most newsworthy images of our time. So the concept behind i-Report isn't new, but we are using it in a new way and taking it to a new level. Let's take a look at a few highlights from 2006.



NGUYEN (voice-over): An SUV stuck in a rising flash flood is swept away in just a matter of seconds. Had Molly Borstead (ph) had not had her video camera rolling we would never have seen this bit of drama unfolding in Pueblo, Colorado in August.

Plenty of news crews were on hand after a plane flown by Corey Lidle crashed into a New York apartment building in October, but i- Reporters were able to give us their own perspectives on the disaster an many of them aiming cameras from their own apartments nearby.

When a 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck Hawaii's big island on October 15, images from i-Reporters were among the first to come in even before video began feeding from local TV stations. I-Reporters got busy when the winter came early and hard to Buffalo, New York in October and again when a blizzard struck Colorado just a few weeks later.

And then there were the funnel clouds from Kansas to Hawaii and plenty of other states in between, i-Report hers their eyes on the cloudy skies. They were also taking aim at the burning hills, Western wildfires gave us spectacular pictures of fire crews in action, attacking fires from the air and on the ground as homes, businesses and even bunnies were threatened.

Around the world, i-Reporters also captured political unrest. The September coup in Thailand, anti-government protests in Budapest, the summer war between Israel and Hezbollah, the war and the troops fighting have generated a lot of our featured material. Pictures sent in by our contributors helped build a poignant online gallery for Veteran's Day and there are used for a daily shout out by ROBIN & COMPANY on HEAD LINE NEWS.

Material from i-Reporters is often used both online and on air. Their efforts give us a broader ability to get the news as it happens through our readers and viewers. So keep that camera handy so you can be among those saying I report for CNN.


NGUYEN: Now, i-Reports come to us as the news is happening and sometimes before our reporters even get to the scene.

HOLMES: And this story was in our greatest hits. Yankee pitcher Corey Lidle's deadly plane crash in New York. Some of the images we got were so compelling, we put them on the home page.

NGUYEN: And take a look at this. Dramatic video from Sourabh Banerjee. Let's meet this intrepid i-Reporter.



I was working at my computer when I heard a huge crash coming from Manhattan, and I thought it was some kind of accident on the FDR, so I quickly reached for my camera and -- and I did it much faster that day, but I reached for my camera and then -- and then I saw the building in flames and so I just started shooting, to see if there was somebody inside or not.

I was just scared and I was hoping there wasn't anyone in the apartment and I was all set to call 911 if I saw any, like, people inside and I just decided that it would be good if news channels could have this video. And I think within an hour or an hour and a half I had upload the video to the CNN Web site. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how does it feel to be able to say i- Reported for CNN?

BANERJEE: It feels good. I have this t-shirt that I really like and, yeah, it feels nice.


NGUYEN: Hey, a T-shirt like that, it doesn't get any better, right?

HOLMES: I got one, too. I kind of like it.

NGUYEN: Me too. Wild, wet, windy, nature unbridled and unleashed and you were there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dive! Quickly! Drive! Drive! Quickly!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Close the door. Close the door.


HOLMES: Also under attack on the job. A CNN reporter in the heart of the action and in the middle of a story.

NGUYEN: Plus the wounds have healed, but the memories still hurt. Straight ahead a story that might leave you stung.

HOLMES: But first, we're counting down the year's most popular stories on Here are numbers 10 and nine.


HOLMES: Well, when the weather outside is frightful, you always send us a little something delightful.

NGUYEN: You not supposed to say that. Well, more than half the i-Reports we get are weather related. Stunning images, check them out, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes right outside your door upon. Here's CNN meteorologist Chad Myers with his pick of the best and stormiest i-Reports.


CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The CNN Weather Center has some top flight meteorologists and an array of the finest computers money can buy, but now we have i-Reporters, our ears and eyes on the ground. Like this one, one of our favorites, Tom Kenny from South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. A late-October storm battering waves washing sail boats up onshore and then a few weeks later, Chris Fisher from Victoria, British Columbia, as the storms were pounding Seattle, Portland and Mount Hood were battling British Columbia with his eyes and ears on the ground, we got his their video. Hurricanes didn't hit the United States very much this year, but you can't say that about typhoons in the Philippines. This is from Toby Wallenberg as the Typhoon Xangsane was hitting the island.

Finally from Russell, Kansas, Paul Brock took these pictures. One of our i-Reporters, the tornado on the ground, here in Russell, Kansas. Great shots, beautiful pictures, but we don't want you to become the story. Please be safe as you become one of our i-Reporters for


HOLMES: Yes. And many of our i-Reporters really get close to nature. Check out this video from Chris in Colorado.

NGUYEN: What are those things?

HOLMES: Those are alpacas. You don't have those running around in your backyard?

NGUYEN: No, no, not yet. Maybe one day.

HOLMES: Well, these are having a get together in the snow and Chris said these big fur balls grew up in the Andes Mountains in South America, so they're use to a little deep freeze.

NGUYEN: No big deal. Well, from the old to the young, when it comes to i-Report, there's no age limit. Willis Mattei proves, the 12-year-old Californian showed us to he can take the heat by sending this scotching wildfire video. Here's Willis in an interview he himself sent us using, what else? I-Report.


WILLIS MATTEI, I-REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) the day the fire was -- the fire itsel -- my dad and I first saw it when we were driving back from my school. So we stopped by my house, grabbed a video camera, which is pretty unusual for me because I do most of my work on a still camera.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you send it to CNN?

MATTEI: Well, originally it was my dad's idea because he didn't want to deal with anything with it, but he said, "No, it could be a good chance to get some publicity." So then we tried sending it to a couple of channels, but CNN was the only one that really worked so we sent it to CNN.

The absolute only thing I used was a handheld Canon camcorder, and it's about five years old, so it's pretty beat up, but it still works fine. So, when I first saw my pictures on CNN it was in my classroom because we have a computer in our classroom and I thought maybe I can check and see if they put my video on the air like they said they would on the phone the previous morning. So I went on to the computer, got on the computer, went to go outside, there it was. I was extremely excited and I showed my classmates the video and they all thought it was really good. So that's great.


NGUYEN: I think he has a profession ahead of him.

HOLMES: He does. We will see him soon, I'm sure.

Now of course, we shared his adventures and celebrated his life and now we mourn Steve Irwin's death. Coming up an i-Report, tribute to a man who taught us courage and conservation.

NGUYEN: Plus it was a stingray that caused the Croc Hunter's untimely death. We'll meet a man who came face-to-face with its deadly barb and lived to tell the tale.

HOLMES: But first, No. 8 in our dot com most popular countdown.


HOLMES: THE YEAR AS YOU SAW IT, this hour is for all you i- Reporters and would be i-Reporters. CNN's i-Report isn't just about shared images, it's also about shared images especially in tragic times.

NGUYEN: Yes, the all too sudden death of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin marked a milestone of mourning. It was the first time i-Report received memorials and they came from all across the globe. Here's CNN's Veronica De La Cruz.


VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I-Reporters submitted photos and videos of kids impersonating Steve Irwin and his wife Terry. We were amazed at the powerful reactions from all over the world at his sudden death. Tens of thousands of e-mails flowed in, filled with grief, inspiration, and praise for the famous Croc Hunter.

"This man is my idol, my hero," wrote one i-Reporter. "Crikey, I miss him so much already," wrote the mom of another. Mike Rochford was so inspired by Irwin's passion for animals he began studying alligators in the Florida Everglades. Animal lovers and nature enthusiasts from around the world sent in their photo memories of a wildlife adventurer. A lucky few had actually gotten a chance to meet Irwin and have their picture taken with him.

Irwin's youngest fans, many of them aspiring Croc Hunters themselves were especially hard hit. Ten-year-old Matthew Cheek of Kissimmee, Florida, paid tribute with a cartoon, one that won the admiration of many i-Reporters.

(on camera): Matthew, you won the best i-Report for September.


DE LA CRUZ: We're actually looking at a picture here. Tell us about it. What is it, exactly?

CHEEK: Actually, I was kind of just tore up. I wanted -- every time I'm like sad or something, I just draw.

DE LA CRUZ (voice-over): Charles Cheeks says his son wants to grow up to be just like Steve Irwin and he's apparently at an early start. He says Matthew recently caught a three-foot baby alligator in a Florida canal using a rope and a piece of roast beef.

Irwin's death is one of the biggest stories out of Australia in a quarter century. I-Reporters young, old and ages in between were on the scene to bring us their tribute and memories of the Croc Hunter, expanding our ability to cover this emotional story for the eyes of his fans.

They not only reported on his legacy as a humble wildlife conservationist, as citizen journalists, they became a part of it.


HOLMES: Well, reliving a nightmare, that's what the Croc Hunter's death meant for Adam Davis. Davis himself was attacked by a stingray back in 1997.

NGUYEN: Yes, he was. It left a deep scar and a decade of painful memories. The Florida man wanted to share his story to CNN and send a message to the audience so we took him fishing.


ADAM DAVIS, STINGRAY VICTIM: We were trying to figure out where there might be some fish because there's such a low tide that, you know, they come go out deep into the bay and when the tide rises they'll come in and they'll feed on these grass flats. So we're just basically trying to figure out what's going to be the best course of action to have that day.

We've been fishing for so long, since we were small children out here that I just kind of had a comfort zone and I was wrong. Just got to be careful, there's a lot of stuff out in this water that will hurt you. You can have an eight foot shark right here in the water with us right now.

This exactly what I did. The net was just going absolutely crazy and we're like, man this, is great, we got a net full of mullet or (INAUDIBLE) it could be anything. Maybe snook (ph), maybe red fish and about the time that I got it right there it just felt like a rocket hit me in the side and the stingray was inside the net and then broke the barb off into my abdomen.

SHAWN THOMAS, DAVIS' FRIEND: And when I walked over there to him, he was holding his shirt up and that's when I seen a little bit of blood running down his side.

DAVIS: This is the scar that I have. They hit you so fast it basically splintered it and there's just little splinters of the barb all along. That was right at five hours of surgery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was the pain like when first happened?

DAVIS: I would liken it to like a wasp or a hornet sting, but probably a hundred times the magnitude. It was unbelievable burning sensation and basically, that venom, you know, kind of like burning.

THOMAS: We tried several times to get it out, but you couldn't get it out.

DAVIS: The initial physician was not able to get it out as well, so that time they called a general surgeon in to schedule surgery for the next day and I don't think he was prepared for the extent of time that it took because -- I remember vividly him walking in and thinking we'll get this out in no time, you know, very confident and then about four and a half hours later he come out and had a word with my parents that he was absolutely amazed at how many pieces of the barb were lodged in my stomach.

I just thought about CNN and I sent it via e-mail and me and my family discuss it and we thought it might raise awares than you have to be careful. We have a beautiful state and there's absolutely nothing wrong with coming out and doing it, but you have to keep in mind the dangers.


NGUYEN: Yes, you do. And that is one lucky man.

HOLMES: And a nasty scar for life, he'll have.

NGUYEN: Well, from flooding in the U.S. Virgin Islands...

HOLMES: To riots in Budapest, you've sent us some pictures from around the world. Plus...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drive! Drive! Go! Drive! Quickly!


NGUYEN: Keep rolling, angry mob chases after CNN's Nic Robertson. You have to see this. We're going show you the incredible footage ahead.


NGUYEN: Oh, yes. Big tape decks, bulky cameras.

HOLMES: Be careful with that, betty.

NGUYEN: I know, bad backs, you can see why. We used to haul around a bunch of equipment just like this to gather the news, of course, and this stuff, T.J., it's been all over the world. HOLMES: Are you OK? That's impressive. This is heavy stuff. This stuff is certainly worth its weight. We put all of this on a scale and it came in around 60 pounds total. Well, of course, those days are done. You sent us i-Reports using tiny cameras and little stuff like this.

NGUYEN: A lot easier. I'll take one of those, please.

HOLMES: All sorts of little gadgets. You use them and so do we. Here now our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson. He kept rolling even in the line of fire.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 2006 has to be the year of the most dramatic change that I've seen in the last 15 years or so broadcasting. We've gone from muse using big cameras to using tiny cell phones with little embedded video cameras, just this year I did a video live broadcast from my home on to CNN's Web site under the pipeline service, sitting at home talking about Afghanistan, talking about the latest developments there, quite literally holding the camera up like this and filming myself.

Why does it make a difference? Because this is the future of live broadcasts. No longer to be first in the news, do you have to have a video camera and a satellite truck or a microwave to get to the scene of an incident. All you need is this, and now all we need is the help of the public, you as well, because it is through these small camera phones, the video camera phones that we can get the first live images of events. It's revolutionary and it is going to change the industry.

And this year as well, I was able to get some devastating images just by using this tiny camera and recorded them. We were in a refugee camp in Darfur in Sudan. We were attacked by an angry crowd of thousands of people. They were trying to get in the vehicle and pull the translator out of the vehicle. They wanted to kill him.

Well, I was able to keep rolling on this tiny camera and keep rolling as they tried to stab him, keep rolling as they were smashing the windows on the vehicle and keep rolling as we drove away to get out of the danger. The crowd later went on to kill someone.

It was a dangerous situation, but with a tiny camera like this, in a volatile environment, bouncing around in the vehicle we were able to keep rolling and it's also paid dividends, because it's small and because easy to use, but because it's also hard for people to see you using. We were able to catch some images that we wouldn't have otherwise been able to get. Late last year in Baghdad, an underground bunker being used by the government to torture people, torture Iraqis and we were able to use pictures outside standing right at the checkpoint by police to get images of the bunker just because we could hold it and the police didn't realize exactly what we were doing.

So this, I believe, is a real change in technology. It makes it safer for us, it's smaller, easier for us to carry around and no it's all you need to go live from many locations in the world now. Nic Robertson, CNN, Baghdad.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank God we're in a Jeep. Oh! My God! Look at this guy!


NGUYEN: Goodness! Our I-reporter sometimes, as you can see, get themselves in deep. In this case, deep water. DeWayne Smith shot this video after driving his car through a flash flood in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

HOLMES: And here's a fiery riot outside Hungarian state TV station in Budapest courtesy of I-reporter Sarah S. It's an image we might not have seen otherwise. It's an image that makes faraway places seem right next door and make I-report a truly global village.

NGUYEN: Take this picture, for example. The Esseily family from California stranded in Beirut during the Israeli Hezbollah fighting and pleading for help. They made it back home safely and sent us a visual record of their long journey.

HOLMES: Now what does it take to get an I-report from your hands to our air? CNN's THE SITUATION ROOM got some incredible I-report footage this year, starting with that Israeli Hezbollah conflict. Internet reporter Abbi Tatton takes us behind the scenes.


ABBI TATTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A rocket flying into the town of Safed in northern Israel, 10 miles from the Lebanese border on August 8th, 2006. One of 145 rockets landed in northern Israel that day in the middle of this summer's conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, but this strike was recorded from a nearby balcony and sent to I-report which had launched just days before. With so many people now owning digital cameras and camera phones, for the first time not only were the people experiencing conflict recording it, CNN began receiving multiple images of war from Kibbutzes (sic), apartments, air raid shelters across Lebanon and northern Israel and reporters and producers half a world away were working to get these personal records on the air to widen the scope of CNN's reporting.

Nineteen-year-old Antoine Maalouf's video of this strike on television towers in Fatkah, Lebanon (ph) on July 22nd was forwarded to CNN with little more than a phone number. And a late-night call to a sleepy Maalouf he'd told me he'd been home when the strike happened. He and his father whom you can hear in the background rushed to the window with a cell phone and this was the result.

In that case, a strike we have no other video of. In some cases we have multiple records of an event from different angles. When Israeli warplanes destroyed four bridges north of Beirut on August 4th, we received dozen images from the surrounding apartments, Tony Samaha these images seconds after the early-morning strike while on the phone with his family in Boston assuring them he was OK.

A mile away, Ramzi Asbahan could also see the damage, he told me he and his family moved from Beirut to this community because they considered it safer. I-reports have yielded all manner of images this year from hurricanes approaching in the Caribbean to a coup in Thailand, but launching in the middle of this summer's Middle East conflict, some of the first things we received were experiences of war, adding diverse voices and viewpoints in that conflict that otherwise may never have been heard. Abbi Tatton in THE SITUATION ROOM, Washington.


HOLMES: Well, when we saw this guy's pictures, we knew we wanted more. Straight ahead, our first repeat I-reporter gives us a glimpse into his gallery.

LIN: Then we'll she you a different kind of flood. This one's online and it's coming from you. You're watching I-REPORT FOR CNN, the year as you saw it.



KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Here's how Ryan Kingsbury joined the most trusted name in news. Ryan shot his photographs after Ernesto crashed in the Kill Devil Hills.

JON STEWART, TALK SHOW HOST: And here's a picture of Ryan and his mom in front of the world's biggest ball of twine.


HOLMES: Sorry about that, Ryan, but sometimes that's the price of I-report fame as Jon Stewart saw the I-report and had to make sure his audience knew about I-report on CNN, albeit he did it jokingly.

But to make it up, this hour is dedicated to you and our other I- reporters. Ryan Kingsbury was our first repeat I-reporter. Let's take a look at some of his stunning work.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long have you been playing around?

RYAN KINGSBURY, I-REPORTER: A couple of years. I kind of got into it as a hobby. I was -- I always felt it was interesting stuff to take photos on of and with digital, it makes it fun to take pictures and get out and process them that night.

I think probably one of the coolest things that I've shot in the past about three years ago there was a sail boat that actually -- with two people who got in trouble and washed up on the Outer Banks.

I actually have probably 150 shots, actually 20, 30 sequences of the boat washing up sideways with waves pushing it over on to the beach and the captain still holding on to the wheel as the waves are coming over and then boat washes up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Describe what you saw.

KINGSBURY: Just a lot of flooding, not as much wind as there was rain, some motion over wash. The flooding was a big thing, I guess that is what interested me to taking photos and send them in to CNN, to see how much flooding there was around where the surf shop is. And the cars driving through it and the water up to their doors and how it flooded everything out so quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was your action when you saw them on the "Daily Show"?

KINGSBURY: Thought it was pretty funny. Jon Stewart got a laugh out of me. He didn't burn me as bad as he did Wolf Blitzer at the end.


NGUYEN: Come on, give Wolf a break. It was a good year for you, yes, we're talking about you. "Time Magazine" has named you the person of the year. Why? The answer is just a mouse click away. Here's our Internet correspondent, Jacki Shechner.


JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): User-generated content exploded in 2006 like when Mentos of diet coke were set to music.

Just ask the comedian who put his dance routine online. Or Lonelygirl15, the young woman who shared her innermost thoughts with millions and turned out to be neither lonely nor 15.

Only on YouTube the video sharing site which Google bought at $1.65 billion and made its creators self-proclaimed kings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two kings that have gotten together and are able to provide you better service.

SCHECHNER: We saw the power of the video, with Michael Richards' racist rant at an L.A. nightclub.

Or when Senator George Allen called his opponent's campaign volunteer "macaca", it was caught on camera and passed around the internet at lightning speed.

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN, (R) VA: Let's give a welcome to macaca here.

SCHECHNER: It may have cost the Virginia senator his seat. He lost his reelection by less than one percent.

We've seen troops in Iraq use video to share their daily lives and military bloggers typing stories from the front lines. During the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah this summer we got firsthand accounts from civilians on both sides of the border. Many filed through CNN's own I-report.

And it's not just video, my space has given everyone a space, building a community of some 80 million users worldwide. More than 6 million people are sharing photos on Flickr and Facebook has infiltrated college campuses as the students' social networking site of choice, Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia anyone can edit when congressional staffers got caught editing opponents profiles.

Hundreds of thousands of people create and make changes to Wikipedia articles every single day.

Blogs keep growing and gaining the trust of the mainstream media. Political blogs showed they can take down a politician like Congressman Mark Foley who resigned after being confronted with inappropriate e-mails and instant messages he sent to former male pages, some of which first showed up on a blog.

Blogs also prove they can propel someone forward like businessman Ned Lamont who with support from bloggers won the Connecticut Democratic primary, but lost to Senator Joe Lieberman in the midterm election.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, (D) CT: I'm Joe Lieberman, and I approve of this election.

SCHECHNER (on camera): 2006 proved people want a place to share and they're doing it over the Web. Sites like Blogger, YouTube and MySpace are constantly evolving, becoming more and more user friendly and as more users log, the growth of the Internet still seems virtually endless. Jacki Schechner, CNN, Washington.


HOLMES: Well, you were shaken and stirred in Hawaii.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There it is again. Aftershock. See that? Aftershock.


NGUYEN: Oh, yeah. We hear it and we were right there with you. Hold on for the ride as we experience an earthquake from your perspective.

HOLMES: And then betty, get ready to say aww! Look at that.

NGUYEN: That's not aww. That's kind of frightening.

HOLMES: Aww. How could you do that to your pet?

Yes, I-report pets on parade, that's coming up. First, numbers four and three on the dot com most popular countdown. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at this bookshelf. There it is again. Aftershock. See that? Aftershock.


HOLMES: Man, shaking it up for I-report. A breathless Hien Tran shoots the aftermath of the October's quake in Hawaii and gets caught up in an aftershock. We're dedicating this hour to the CNN I- reporters.

NGUYEN: Check out these shots from Erin Baldwin Brown. The quake leaves a historic church in ruins on the Big Island.

HOLMES: Also the tremors crack a major roadway in half. The quake also knocked down local TV stations so we relied on I-reporters to show us the damage and some of their pictures even topped's home page.

NGUYEN: Well, the road to recovery a seemingly endless one for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. One of the New Orleans I-reporters thought we weren't getting the full picture so he shared his own take on life after the storm. Here's CNN's Susan Roesgen.


COREY TISDALE, I-REPORTER: This is the living room. We were able to squeeze quite a bit of furniture here.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some people in New Orleans don't even want to think about what Katrina did to their homes and their lives, but Corey Tisdale wants everyone to see what was the worst of it.

TISDALE: The door frame had swollen up and we had to kind of kick the door in. We'd heard stories from other people that the fridge would be the most disgusting part of your house, so we were surveying how gross it actually was.

ROESGEN: Corey's fiancee took the pictures in the first few weeks after the hurricane.

TISDALE: All of this under here was rotten and had termite damage and everything so we wound up having to support the roof temporarily and rebuild everything from the -- from these guys up out here.

ROESGEN: Corey's neighborhood was a ghost town. The streets empty, but not anymore. That's why Corey became a CNN I-reporter. Documenting the Katrina recovery.

TISDALE: About two or three days after you guy his posted the I- report that I sent in I had somebody in New York e-mail me and say hey, man, it's great to see somebody in my own age group handling some of this so responsibly. It was really nice to have and I guess that's the idea is to get people maybe to see a side of the rebuilding process that's not often seen.

I don't know if it's the extremely positive side of it myself, but what I do is good to focus it.

ROESGEN: Sometimes I-reporters send us photos and videos of news events as they happen, bringing us the story almost instantly and then there are those who give us a unique perspective on how slowly time moves after a life-changing event.

Susan Roesgen, CNN, New Orleans.


HOLMES: Your thoughts, your feelings, your anger all at your own words. I-reports don't have to be pictures or video. CNN gets a ton of text messages every single day.

NGUYEN: An unbelievable amount, really, check out these conflicting views on how serious a problem racism is. John from Virginia writes, "I'm afraid to say that racism will never, I repeat, never disappear. People as a whole are too set in their ways. Nobody is born prejudiced but somehow everyone of every race gets there. Just like in Iraq we need to start looking for a happy medium, toleration instead of a melting pot. Looks a lot more like reality of day."

HOLMES: But Keith from Las Vegas says, "How long will we have to pay for the since of our forefathers. Let it go or it will never go away. Racism has become a tool to justify actions on both sides, even gay people say they are the same as black people. When will it end? Well, next year I will refer to myself as a black Irish lesbian white Islamic male." Good luck with that.

NGUYEN: All right. To read more of our viewer e-mails or send in your own thought goes to

HOLMES: And if you're not the tech savvy type, maybe you're not, don't worry. It's going to be all right. These gadgets are easier to use than you of course. We'll show you how to become an I-reporter in no time. Plus this.


JOAN COTNER, I-REPORTER: Is it cold out? How do you like all this snow?


NGUYEN: Oh, my. I-reporters just love their pets. Up next, we've got some wild and wacky stories to share.

HOLMES: But first, we want to share this, number two in our dot com most popular countdown. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Hey, you don't have to be a tech toe use I-report. Just let your fingers do the walking. It's quick, painless and much easier than you may of course.'s digital media editor Paul Chase put this piece together to show you the ropes.



LILA KING, I-REPORT PRODUCER: And I'm Lila King, and we are members of team I-report.

I-report is unique because it's all news. It's all news that goes through the same CNN news-gathering process that everything else does, it just starts with your camera or your video camera and your sending the photo in to CNN.

WHEATLEY: We're just showing off all of the many ways that you can make an I-report. Obviously there's the video camera, there's the still camera and, of course, a lot of cell phones now have cameras built in and you can actually send an I-report just from the still phone. You've taken your I-report and you've come home and you have uploaded to the computer. Where do you go to send it us to.

Let me show you.

Just go to and look for the I-report logo down here and click on that. You go straight to our news forum. This is our breaking news I-report form. This is the simplest way to get something to us if you have something outstanding and want to get it us to quick, just come here. All you have to do is put your personal information up here. You upload the file here by clicking on the browse button, all right. Give us your description of what we're looking and the then, boom, send it. That's it. If it's a cell phone camera, you can be anywhere, any time. You can take a picture and send an I-report to CNN.

Here it is. Instantly.

KING: You might not be witness to breaking news, but you'll be witness to something that helps to tell the bigger story of what our life is like today. What's going on in the world and how are people affected by it.

WHEATLEY: These are photos on of people who want to salute the troops. We've got lots of great shots of people's sons and daughters and friends and family who are serving overseas at wars past and present.

KING: It's this inside view, you know? You get a more intimate feel for how people are being affected by the big news stories that are making big headlines.

(END VIDEOTAPE) NGUYEN: All right. Hard news. That is what many of our I- reports cover, but we still have a soft spot for the wilder side of life. Here's a look at our wacky I-report moments.


COTNER: How do you like all this snow? I brought you a banana.


NGUYEN: Zoe hails from Bowie, Texas and this was her first look at snow. We've learned that I-reporters love their pets. Especially at Halloween. And they sure love to dress them up, but we're not sure the pets feel the same way.

You don't have to snap a picture or shoot a video. I-reports can be of the pen and ink variety as well. These political cartoons were submitted to the Warped CNN Blog. This summer we asked I-reporters to take touts fair, from this one in Lincoln, Nebraska to Kokomo, Indiana and their world famous butter cow. How do they keep it from melting?

And speaking of melting, was it hot enough for you this summer? I-reporters responded with a resounding yes it was and they couldn't have said it better than with this overheated squirrel. That squirrel could have used some of the snow this llama enjoyed in November after a storm in Gaston, Oregon. And from Oregon, we head to Columbia, Missouri where this I-reporter knows he left his car somewhere.

You never know when an I-report opportunity will present itself. When it does, take a picture and send it, then you can say I report for CNN.

It's that easy. Well, the year is ending, but I-report is only beginning. Who knows where the next year will take us? You might be interacting with us in ways we and you never dreamed of.

HOLMES: But in the meantime, we want to thank all of you I- reporters out there. Thanks to you we've covered a lot of news and expanded our news team across the world. Now, here's what topped our dot com list.


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