'Another success for the government in tamping down the protests has been its management of the media. In the months running up to the demonstrations, the government has given Iraqi journalists gifts including plots of land, low-interest loans for car purchases and cash handouts, all of them officially sanctioned and distributed under the auspices of the journalists' union.
Sabah Khadim Hamza, office director at the journalist's syndicate, was adamant the land allocations and car loans were not bribes, but instead perks the union had struggled to get for its members. "Many government employees in the ministries enjoy such benefits and we wanted to win them for hard-working journalists," he said. "It does not mean reporters will stop being independent." '