Should the initial article in periodical titles be retained in both prose and works-cited-list entries?
Yes. The styling of titles should be consistent in your prose and in your works-cited list. Since, as the MLA Handbook notes, “[t]itles are given in the entry in full exactly as they are found in the source” (25), if the title of a periodical starts with an article, retain the article when you provide the title in your works-cited-list entry and in your prose, as shown in the following example:
In an article in The New York Times on political analysts published shortly after the 2012 presidential election, Eric Pfanner mentions two pollsters, Simon Jackman and Drew Linzer, . . .
Published 17 April 2019