CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - Nearly 60 journalists from southern Iraq met at Camp Dhi Qar, near Nasiriyah, to talk with Italian journalists and discuss the growth of Iraq's free press Dec. 7-8.

"I think it is very important to have the cooperation between Iraqi media and Italian and international media," said Wathick Abdul Abed, an Iraqi journalist who writes for several local newspapers as well as websites.

Anna Marie Greco, an Italian journalist who spoke at the conference, discussed important issues in journalism such as bias in reporting, the Iraqi journalists overcoming their fears of retribution and newsgathering techniques.

"The role of the journalist is very important in a free society," said Greco. "Until now, Iraqi journalists have not had the freedoms they should have, but now, they're learning what to ask and how to interview important people to get good stories."

Dr. Anna Prouse, leader of the Dhi Qar Provincial Reconstruction Team, also contributed to the discussion. She was an international journalist for several years in such places as Morocco and Lebanon.

Iraqi journalists are becoming increasingly comfortable with reporting news, even that which is critical of leaders, due to ongoing efforts like these.