When working on the technical quality of an editorial image, you should make the exposure, contrast, and white balance as faithful as possible to the original scene.
DO NOT digitally alter the content of your photograph with filters, tools, or digital elements. You cannot cut or smudge/blur an object that was present when the image was taken. Current industry standards for editorial imagery allows only what you could do in a darkroom. This includes brightening or darkening and cropping the size or frame.