First off, let's establish this: It is not a news organization's fault if they spoil the Olympics for you.
A news organization's job is to report news when it happens. If an Olympic event is held and finishes during the day, news organizations have an obligation to report the results when they are official. That's their job. That's what they do.
If you're upset about this, it's not CNN's fault. Or ESPN's. Or The New York Times'. It's NBC's fault. NBC long ago made the decision to air the games "plausibly live," focusing their coverage around prime time rather than when the events actually take place. The Olympics are often a pre-recorded TV show.
In the past, it was easy to avoid getting events spoiled. In recent years, it became harder due to digital and social media. But it was possible to log off and avoid the news for a few hours if you wanted watch without knowing.
But now, there's a new wrinkle in this issue.
The push notification.
Thanks CNN for sending me a push notification spoiling the results of women’s gymnastics I was going to watch tonight.— Katie Floyd (@KatieFloyd) August 9, 2016
Journalism is more and more focused on mobile platforms. I taught an entire course about it, and we had a full unit just on push notifications. They are how a growing percentage of people get their news - especially college kids. We talk a lot in my classes about how many push notifications we all get from news sites, what we do with them, etc.
The push notification changes our relationship with breaking news. Instead of us finding news, news finds us. Which can be awesome.
Or, if you want to watch the women's gymnastics final, it can suck.
@bpmoritz Agreed, but given people’s various time zones and tape delays, it’d be nice if there were better ways to opt-out/avoid.— Julia Richert (@juliainor) August 9, 2016
@bpmoritz For example, I updated my NYT app settings to turn off Olympics alerts. Guess what still came under regular “breaking news”?— Julia Richert (@juliainor) August 9, 2016
It's not The Times' or CNN's fault, it's NBC's fault. But that doesn't mean The Times or CNN or other news organizations can't do things to help their readers.
Maybe they can make it so no Olympic news goes out on the main Breaking News alerts, so that people can still find out when Donald Trump calls on his followers to do something stupid but not the latest Olympic results. I would consider doing an "Olympic spoiler" special, where users can opt out of all Olympic-related alerts (with the added bonus of engaging users in the process).
It's not a news organization's fault if they spoil the Olympics by reporting the news.
But that doesn't mean there's not an opportunity here to make our readers' experience better.