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For this week's Snapshot, a reporter is free to form an opinion. Last week, Carole Simpson publicly endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton for president of the United States. She had never done anything like that in her life. It was the first time she could.

Professor CAROLE SIMPSON (Journalism, Emerson College): I had taken a group of my Emerson College journalism students from my road to the White House courts to New Hampshire. The last time I had seen Senator Clinton, I was a working journalist. So I was anxious to meet her again as a private citizen. My students and I eagerly entered the Salem High School gymnasium where about 200 mostly Democratic voters were gathered.

Mrs. Clinton gave her standard stump speech with particular emphasis on balancing work and family. She was smooth as glass - moving from health care, the economy and the Iraq war. It was the classy, smart Hillary I had covered many times as an ABC News correspondent.

Starting first with her days at the Children's Defense Fund, then to first lady of the country during her husband Bill's two terms as president. I was among the travelling press who accompanied Hillary and daughter Chelsea to North Africa. I know her.

In recent days, I had decided she would be the candidate I would support for president. So after her speech and during the question-and-answer period, my persistent calls from the audience finally got her attention. I wasn't sure she recognized me from the distance. So I reminded her that I was Carole Simpson, formerly of ABC News and now a member of the faculty at Emerson College in Boston. I said to her in the assembled crowd that I had been a journalist for 40 years, covering our national political leaders and had watched the good and the bad they had done to the country.

I told her I dreamed of living to see the day when there was a woman president. I added, this is the time and you are the woman. The crowd erupted in applause. She was completely taken aback and blushed through a gracious thank you. I know there will be African-Americans who wonder why I didn't endorse Senator Barack Obama - a man for whom I have great admiration. But I don't know him. Although we both hail from Illinois, I had never covered his political activities. I'm sure he is an able candidate for president but he is still young. He has time.

I'm not planning to campaign for Hillary Clinton but I may, if she asks me. See, for the first time, I can express my opinion about her or anyone else. As a working journalist, to do my job as an objective observer, I had to keep all personal political opinions to myself.

Now, I am free to express for the very first time a political preference. I finally can exercise my right to free political speech. Free at last.

CHIDEYA: That was Carole Simpson, journalism professor at Emerson College with this week's Snapshot. She told her story from member station WGBH in Boston, Massachusetts.

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I'm Farai Chideya. This is NEWS & NOTES.

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