Fresh Eye on the Radio: Spoiling the Olympics

“We do news…and wins and losses are news.”

That’s the kind of declaration I’ve come to know — and love — from MPR news director Mike Edgerly. Subject? Giving Olympic results before you have a chance to watch them on TV.

Usually, the Olympics are accompanied each year by a slew of complaints that giving the results of Olympic competition ruins it for people who want to watch tape-delayed broadcasts on network TV.

Not this year. “I haven’t had one,” said Mark Jungmann, MPR’s member listener services associate, who’s the voice at the other end of the phone.

Perhaps it’s the changing nature of information. What with Twitter and Web sites, we’ve become accustomed to getting information immediately. Or perhaps it’s an indication that Twitter and the Web have usurped radio’s traditional role of giving away the ending.

Molly Wood at CNET News says the Twitter problem isn’t limited to the Olympics. She notes that West Coast TV viewers are constantly having their programs spoiled by East Coast tweets:

Networks aren’t likely to rearrange their entire prime-time schedules to accommodate coastal differences–especially since only about 30 percent of U.S. households have DVRs. Putting “Lost” on at dinnertime on the West Coast will happen right around the time Jack stops being a self-righteously unbearable prig. (Spoiler alert.)

So, what are we to do? Sure, we can try to hide from Twitter when good shows are on, but no one’s perfect–especially not hard-core Internet addicts like, um, some of my friends. And even if I can avoid Twitter when “Glee” is on, what about movies, which are regularly spoiled by Internet discussion? What about the feeling that if you don’t see “Avatar” on opening weekend, you’ll be so sick of hearing about it on Twitter that you’ll gradually lose any desire to see it at all? Once you’ve spent a week or two embroiled in endless 140-character dissections of its “Dances with Wolves” plot, “amazing” graphics, and @arguments about whether that Na’Vi chick is hot or not, “It’s Complicated” starts to feel deliciously underhyped. (Shudder.)

Some media get around this problem by issuing “spoiler alerts” on their tweets. Like this one:


What’s your pleasure on the subject?

It’s discussed on today’s Fresh Eye on the Radio with The Current’s Mary Lucia, shortly before she convinced me not to give today’s results.

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