TV reporter punks photobombers with The Pat-Down: fair game or foul play? (VIDEO)

It's about time someone turned the tables on these lens lice. Be careful what you wish for, photobombers. Photo: WGN-TV

SAN DIEGO, July 20, 2012 – The term “photobomb” may have appeared in the Urban Dictionary just three years ago in 2009, but the act of photobombing has been going on ever since news photographers pointed a camera anywhere in public.

Another term new to me floating around for these types is “lens lice.” It seems quite fitting as these vid bugs are nearly as impossible to eradicate, and are just as unpleasant.

Add crowds and/or alcohol to the mix as in a football game, county fair, beach boardwalk in the summer, or concert, and it can make any journalist’s life sheer hell. I don’t know anyone who has worked in television news at any level over the past 20 years who hasn’t dealt with this.

Photobombing has risen to new levels with the advent of YouTube and other online video. There are even websites devoted to photobombing. No, I’m NOT linking them. Go find them yourself. Now people around the world can see you jumping up and down behind a reporter during a live shot or see you run in front of NBC’s Bob Costas interviewing the winner of the U.S. Open golf tournament while you’re wearing a blue chicken suit with a Union Jack knit cap, screeching like a peacock. Mr. Peacock turned out to be drunk. Imagine that. And every time we write or talk about it, we fan the photobombing flames.

An infamous photobombing incident took place in June 2012 as NBC’s Bob Costas was interviewing U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson. Photo: Associated Press.

WGN Chicago morning show reporter Pat Tomasulo decided to give the photobombers a little taste of their own medicine, some special face time on camera. He calls it “The Pat-Down” and he’s been at it since 2010. Earlier this week, he went out to a local festival and waved photobombing passers-by over to join him on the air. When he brought them in to his live shot, they got some unexpectedly embarrassing personal questions about bodily functions, whether President Obama is a citizen, and even vajazzling. (I’m not explaining it here, click the link). 

People who commented on the posted video had diverging opinions. Some said the stunt was intentionally mean, and not at all funny. Others thought it was a riot.

Having dealt with this myself, I’m in the “payback is a medevac” camp. This behavior can be especially frustrating when you’re just trying to do your job. Most people don’t have to put up with someone heckling them in their daily jobs. Imagine someone distracting you and catcalling you from the side of your desk while you are talking to a customer or writing a report for the boss. Try it sometime and you’ll find out it’s not much fun.

Be careful what you wish for, would-be photobombers. Photo: WGN-TV Screen Capture.

These folks intentionally goofed on the reporter trying to do his job, so they deserve what they get. I wasn’t real keen on the poo-poo questions but the birther intro and the Rhianna segment were both funny. The ones that laughed at the joke played on them get some credit.

So, funny or mean-spirited? Take a look, and tell us what you think. Maybe it will make you think twice before you photobomb some poor local TV reporter again.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.


Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities at” when quoting from or linking to this story.   


Copyright © 2012 by Falcon Valley Group

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Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.


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