As a photographer for a long time it's not that hard for me to understand the manipulation. Lots of the icon shots we know of were easily staged. The sailor kissing the nurse, is no different than what we tell a bridegroom at a wedding. The Iwo Jima flag raising was re-staged. Weegee staged his shots. If the shots had no impact, you wouldn't be a photojournalist for long.
Most of the Middle East protestors only get real animated when the cameras are there.
I was at a Mother's Against Nuclear Weapons Testing (or something like that) held every year outside Vegas at a testing site. Everyone comes in to a staging area, parks, puts on their tie-dyes, tailgates and barbeques, waits for the celebrities (Martin Sheen) and the media. Then everything is set up, arms entwined we all march a 16th of a mile to the gates of the massive fenced area. UNITED STATED NUCLEAR TEST SITE...yada yada......Waiting are a few dozen guards who are here to work overtime for the event. Army vehicles, prison buses and military personnel abound.
They wait for the media to set up their shots, the head of the Military guards announces that anyone that crosses the line will be arrested. That's the cue, then everyone sings We Shall Overcome or something of that nature and we cross the line. Everyone is arrested. Lots of time to make sure the media gets great shots of Martin Sheen led to a prison bus, wearing plastic cuffs. Once the bus is full it takes everyone away.
Well not actually away. In fact it takes everyone back to the staging area/parking lot and turns them loose. Everyone parties for a while, Martin gets into his limo and heads back to Vegas and the guards go home. Hmmm
What I'd like to see is a documentary on the media in action. Turn the cameras around and watch celebrities surrounded by 100 photographers at an event, or stalked while walking down the street. Or menaced by assholes paparazzi saying shit to get a reaction when you leave a restaurant so the shot is worth 10 times more. (Sean Penn always falls for this one)
Or better yet, turn them on the ass kissing media on election campaigns as the candidates always are waving at nobody, or fed softball questions. That's a Pulitzer prize waiting to happen, cover the media. Then people might see what bullshit the evening news is.