The Times’ Matea Gold reports on the Show Tracker blog about an uproar over Twitter users sending out Olympic “spoilers,” reporting the results of events as they happen, often hours before they’re broadcast on TV.
This is especially true on the West Coast, where NBC is tape-delaying its already delayed telecast.
The Times has been receiving the same type of criticism over its coverage of the Olympics, which is being reported on latimes.com, in breaking news alert e-mails and via Twitter.
The Olympics Blog has received comments such as these:
From LA Woman: “Dear LA Times: There are some of us who like to be surprised while watching the tape-delayed Olympics broadcast. Can’t you just post a headline that says “For Olympics Results, Click Here” instead of spoiling it for everyone on your homepage? I’m pretty sure you don’t want to alienate any more readers than you already have….”
From CTNM: “I’ve decided to remove LA Times as my homepage since they spoil the results of EVERY Olympic event.”
Meanwhile, a reader named Beth e-mailed:
“I love getting your breaking news alerts, however, I have unsubscribed because I keep getting breaking news alerts about Americans winning and not winning medals in Vancouver! You are ruining it for me! There is no way I can delete the e-mail without seeing the subject line which ruins it for me! I just found out that Lindsay Vonn won the Gold, and I really wanted to watch it and root for her tonight. “
And Twitter user @chauche replied to a tweet from The Times:
“STOP ruining our nights! You have to understand that we want to watch the results tonight on TV. STOP, LA TIMES!!!”
Managing Editor Sean Gallagher, who oversees latimes.com, said The Times is simply doing its job:
“The Times has also been receiving complaints about the tweets we are sharing — and not just about the Olympics. In most cases our policy is simple: We report news as it happens.
“To do otherwise would clearly damage our credibility as impartial observers of events. Worse, it would make us an agent of the NBC Olympics marketing machine.
“Direct your ire at NBC. That firm made the decision to repackage marquee events in prime time. The Times reports news.”
The Times is certainly not the only news organization reporting on Olympic events as they happen. The New York Times and Washington Post are also tweeting results and posting stories on their websites. Even NBC is revealing the results on both its Olympics page and its Los Angeles site.
As the debate over spoilers raged on Twitter, Robert Niles, technical editor of the American Statistical Assn., tweeted:
“Posting the results of a public event seen by millions around the world isn’t a ‘spoiler.’ It’s ‘news.’ You know, what journalists post.”
This blog posting was originally published on LATimes.com on Feburary 18, 2010.