In his book, The Taste of Bread, Prof. Calvel often talked about the effects of oxidation on the dough. What irritated him no end was French bakers who decided to speed up the process of making the dough by using high, aggressive mixer speeds. Moreover, they added the salt toward the end of the mixing/kneading process. Prof. Calvel said the that salt should be added at the beginning of the mixing/kneading process because it is an antioxidant. Like Peter Reinhart, he was also concerned about the effects of high and aggressive mixer speeds and related oxidation effects damaging the carotenoids in flour. According to Prof. Calvel, the carotenoids contribute to the color, aroma and taste of the finished crust.
In Norma's case, being the gentle woman that she is, I do not see her jacking up her mixer speeds to the max. So, whether she adds the salt up front or later may not matter all that much, whether directly or as a brine. However, she may not want to mix/knead the soaker too much so that it doesn't end up being overmixed when she completes the final mix.