CNN iReport is an essential element of newsgathering and storytelling here at CNN, and your voice, along with others, helps us shape the stories we report. iReporters helped CNN cover the biggest news events of 2012 -- Superstorm Sandy, devastating wildfires in Colorado and the Israel-Gaza conflict, to name a few -- but they also shared uniquely personal stories that put a face on complex issues like mental illness and gay rights.
The CNN iReport Awards celebrate journalism and reward iReporters for their contributions to our community. The 36 nominees were selected by a panel of CNN experts who reviewed the almost 11,000 iReports approved for use on CNN in 2012 to find the most compelling examples of participatory journalism. Our goal is to recognize and honor iReporters for delivering stories that are creative, personal, provocative, well-produced and, above all, newsworthy. This year's nominees represent a mix of smart punditry, beautifully produced videos, unique storytelling and heart-rending personal essays.
There are six categories: Breaking News, Original Reporting, Compelling Imagery, Commentary, Personal Story and, new this year, In-depth Storytelling, a category we created to acknowledge iReporters who stick with a story over time. Our judges selected the recipients in each category.
And of course, we recognize that not all citizen journalism happens on iReport. The Excellence on the Web section of the Awards honors some of the standout citizen journalism and participatory storytelling that happened elsewhere on the Web in 2012. See the honorees.
The people have spoken and chosen the iReport they think represents the best of CNN iReport in 2012. The votes are in, and the Community Choice Award goes to: The shoe cobbler.
Each iReporter adds something unique to CNN, but a few exceptional members go above and beyond to make the community a better place. We honor them in recognition of their hard work and sense of collaboration, which embody the spirit of CNN iReport.