There's a pretty well known (?) sequence of, I think, three crops of the same photograph. My memory is fuzzy, but I think it's a photograph of a kneeling or seated prisoner (or someone who looks like a prisoner) in front of a row of soldiers, heavily armed. One crop emphasizes a rifle that happens to be aligned with the man's head, and gives the impression of the man about to be executed, another crop eliminates that soldier and emphasizes another one who is (perhaps?) offering the prisoner a drink giving the impression of a simple errand of mercy. The third is, again my memory is suspect, the "original frame" and shows the looming mass of soldiers, the aligned rifle, and the offered drink, creating a more neutral impression.
The crop is always on the list of "permitted" items, as it must be for surely we "crop" reality when we shoot.
Ultimately, we must rely on the integrity of the journalists. Personally, if they choose to use HDR or create composites or erase inconvenient elements, I don't much care. Perhaps the created image is truly closer to "the truth" of the situation than any single frozen instant in time. Perhaps it is not.
Probably, whatever the process, the image and whatever piece it is attached to will be more about the agenda of the media organization than anything else. There is no media without bias, any outlet that claims otherwise is either deluded or lying (and since they all DO, I guess they're all deluded, lying, or both?) There's no particular road to "truth" except to go and see for yourself, and even then you'll see the situation through the lens of your OWN biases. Failing that, I suppose you can try to adjust for known biases.
Any news photo that matters to you should be looked at with skepticism. What could lie just outside the frame that would make you realize that you're completely wrong? Imagine that it's there, and chew on that a bit before you get too excited.