Okay to crop or not? here are a few comments that form my opinion at this point in my use of photography.
My very first photography job was in the mid 60's working for a television station / newspaper affiliate. Like several before have posted, You could literally be running from the car to the engineer with seconds before an image goes on air. You think I exaggerate? We shot 16mm, 21/4, 35mm and even 4x5 view graphic. We carried all options to the scene on some occasions. the only way we could meet some of the deadlines was by slapping a Polaroid back on the view graphic and using that for instant "breaking" news. you cropped everything in the camera.
From a hobby/passion point of view that was something that was and is hard to shake but I have gone from shooting birds to shooting birds in flight now to trying to shoot birds in their everyday what birds do. Even wildflowers many times require the associated vegetation in order to identify it but then I'll crop it out later to show the bloom itself.
I love using a good tight cropped in the camera photo...but there is so much more you can do with sometimes just a little bit of extra space / surrounding area. It could mean the ability to present an image vertically or horizontal where without that extra little bit you would loose something of the main image of the story.
to crop is fine up the the point that the resulting image is inferior. And of course that starts another whole discussion. is focus absolute? how much noise is too much etc.
I think it comes down to whether we are producing documentary images or art. At least for me, that is when I make the decision of what I can do with an image.
Documentary, I do not change anything. There are a couple of shows I enter where the rules state no manipulation, I can follow rules.
But if it is my art, no holds are barred. I might use every button photoshop has. There are no photo police. Should something be in focus, my art-my call. If I want flying monkies I get them. I can add or take away noise. If blur helps how I want the image to look, then the image is blurred. My call. If someone doesn't like it, fine. It would be like someone not liking the paint strokes on an oil painting. They are allowed an opinion, but they are not allowed to control what I do for me.
On the other hand, most of my work actually gets little photoshop work. To get the look I want it doesn't need it. But when it does, look out. Photoshop is smoking.