"You want to make sure you edit it in the right way," said Major Alayne Conway, who served as a U.S. military public affairs officer in Iraq. When preparing videos for media outlets and websites like YouTube, she said her goal was "something that is going to make Joe Six-Pack look up from his TV dinner or his fast-food meal and look up at the TV and say, 'Wow, the American troops are kicking butt.'" The Associated Press notes that "the Pentagon now spends more than $550 million a year -- at least double the amount since 2003 -- on public affairs," not including personnel costs. The military's training manual calls public affairs a "perception management tool," though it's supposed to provide "facts but not spin" to U.S. audiences. Instead, public affairs seems focused on promoting the military, flying "friendly bloggers to Iraq and Afghanistan," increasing media embed rules, "expanding its Internet presence from 300 to 1,000 sites and increasing its free cable programming on the Pentagon Channel by 33 percent to 2,080 programs." AP's chief executive, Tom Curley, is calling for media organizations "to re-negotiate the rules of engagement between the military and the media. ... Now is the time to resist the propaganda the Pentagon produces and live up to our obligation to question authority and thereby help protect our democracy."
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