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Eric Shackle Writes: Kiwi Monkey Tricks World's Letters Editors

Eric Shackle introduces us to the authors of hoax letters who are fooling newspaper editors around the world.

An anagram reveals that MONKEYS WRITE the NEW YORK TIMES. A mischievous
monkey from New Zealand named Andrew Prieditis has fooled that newspaper's
letters editor into publishing a letter showing a fake address.

What's more, using other false addresses, he has similarly tricked leading
newspapers in Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and
the Philippines.

Facing falling revenue from sales and advertising in the economic
depression, newspapers, some on the brink of bankruptcy, have slashed staff
numbers. Overworked letters editors often have little time to check the bona
fIdes of their correspondents, so Prieditis gets his opinions published by
using phony addresses.

His greatest success was a story headed "My plan to be president" which made
top place in the Aug.1 Opinion blog of the Dallas Morning News in Texas:

If I were a Republican interested in becoming president, I'd hitch my
star to Sarah Palin's wagon. She will run for president in 2012.

I'd stay so close that after her nomination for president by the
Republican Party, she'd have to choose me as her running mate. With her
charisma and conservative views, our ticket would be elected.

Then, after two years of serving as president, when she tired of a
probing media, outside agitators and an uncooperative Congress -- and became
convinced that she could help the nation better being outside of
government -- she'd resign. Then I'd be president.

Andrew Prieditis, Dallas

Right alongside it was an editorial introduction: "This Blog was the first
in the nation created by an editorial board to give readers a
behind-the-scenes view of the discussion that goes into crafting the
newspaper's daily editorials."

Frieditis's epistle, also published by The Seattle Times and other
newspapers, set off chains of readers' comments, for and against Sarah

In another Texan city, journalist Kevin Whited
http://www.bloghouston.net/item/7781 wrote:

"Although the Houston Chronicle has 'an informal 90-day waiting period
between letters being published,' Mr. Prieditis of Houston managed to get
two letters (one on Sarah Palin on 3 August and one on Joe Biden on 7
August) published within days of each other.

"'Punking' the Hearst daily -- especially now that former letters editor
Judy Minshew is no longer around... is a little like adults taking candy
from children."

Dubbing Prieditis "a citizen of the world," Whited said "Mr. Prieditis isn't
a one-trick pony, nor is he just a man of this nation. He has managed to get
letters on various topics published all over the world."

Googling his name, you can find letters published by the New York Times from
Andrew Prieditis of Hamilton, New Zealand
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/06/opinion/06iht-edlet.html, the London
Independent, http://tinyurl.com/m58gvh from Andrew Prieditis of Elland,
West Yorkshire, and the Jerusalem Post (Israel) http://tinyurl.com/locuvd
from Andrew Prieditis of Washington.

Down Under, Rupert Murdoch's national newspaper, The Australian,
http://tinyurl.com/m9c8jt ran this letter from Andrew Prieditis of Torquay,
Queensland on August 6:

WHAT does Somalia have in common with Australia? Until recently, almost
nothing. The two nations, if Somalia can still be called a nation, had
basically zero historical, economic and cultural links until the Department
of Immigration began accepting some Somali refugees to Australia.

Now we are told by the Australian Federal Police there is a direct link
between the violent mayhem in Somalia and an alleged plot to attack and kill
soldiers at the Holsworthy army base in Sydney.

Even if these arrests do not survive the scrutiny of the legal process,
they are a reminder that our security services have a constant and difficult
task of sifting through the mountain of daily communication and identifying
danger. Tuesday's raids were a reminder of what they are doing and why.

In his home country, the prolific letterwriter fooled Auckland's New Zealand
Herald, http://tinyurl.com/mxqyc6 which published a letter from Andrew
Prieditis of Kaitaia, urging Kiwis to eat less sugar and take more exercise,

Then down in Invercargill, the Southland Times
rhttp://tinyurl.com/lv63cq ran an email from Andrew Prieditis of Hamilton
urging them to "shake off the ghosts of the Rugby World Cup 2007."

He even proffered advice to New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key before
Key was elected to that position. It's still there on the PM's video
journal: http://tinyurl.com/kt86t7

John: I've recently returned from living 6 years in the United States.
It is there that my eyes were opened up to the principles of limited
Government in action and lower taxes. I do hope that in the next election,
the National party pushes taxes as a big issue as I think, with enough
persuasion of the NZ public, it could be the single factor which pushes the
party over the winning line.

Where does the mysterious scribbler really live? In the US or New Zealand?
Perhaps the answer is on the website of his old school, Kamo High,
http://kamohigh.school.nz/past.htm near Whangarei, two hours' drive north
of Auckland. He wrote:

I was a student at Kamo High School in 1995 and 1996, the latter being
my 7th form year (I'm amazed at how fast time has gone since then!). I then
went on to study applied mathematics at the University of Waikato,
graduating with a BSc in 2000.

After that I headed for the United States, and I'm now living in the
state of Maryland (near Washington D.C.), working for a real estate
transaction company as a Technology Coordinator. I am now also married to a
lovely American woman!

Another verbose writer, Oscar Brittle, invaded Sydney's four daily
newspapers' letter pages with a hilarious series of posts that infuriated
thousands of readers. You can read about him in OhmyNewsInternational:
Australia's Funniest Ghost Writer,

Prieditis's latest victim is The Birmingham Post (UK). http://www.birminghampost.net/comment/letters-to-the-editor/2009/08/19/olympic-games-must-go-back-to-the-future-in-search-for-renewed-credibility-65233-24474642/

He could do with some renewed credibility!


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