The media's freedom of movement within Iraq has been severely restricted over the last year or so due to the high levels of violence, and the heightened threat against westerners. For the most part media crews have relied upon the U.S. military to shuttle them around the country as they "embed" with various units. It's worked out well for the military because it gets ample opportunity to get it's message out. The media, on the other hand, is itching to do other stories that don't include shots of U.S. soldiers or Marines ridding about in HUMMVs.
With the recent successes of the "surge" the bureaus are becoming more active in their efforts to get out on the streets and gather other, non-military stories. It still requires immense amounts of security coordination, but little by little things are beginning to open up. There's an direct relationship between the security situation on the ground in Iraq and quantity of stories filed by the Baghdad bureaus.
On another note, if I were a "backpack journalist" I'd be heading to Turkey right now. The situation there remains questionable as the Turks have a reputation for entering Iraq, making some noise and leaving again. This time, however, there seems to be more activity and not a lot of news coverage due to the fact that expense assets are tied up elsewhere. Opportunity exists.