A Business of Ferrets Avenue of the Americas When the storm broke in the newsroom of theNew York Postin midtown, the staff broke into the defensive huddles that mark a newspaper where the editor has just proven mortal. There had been no warning of what was coming. On Monday, April 23, 2001, just before five p.m., as the paper was gearing up for the serious business of getting an edition out for the next day, the publisher, Ken Chandler, called the staff around him. Xana Antunes, their Scottish-Portuguese editor, was with him, sucking the pink lollipop that was her trademark since she quit smoking. It came out whenever she was under stress. Two days later thePostwould announce a 10 percent rise in its circulation. A cut in the cover price had given the paper the biggest sales hike in its history. But it wasn't enough to save Antunes's job. Chandler announced briefly that Antunes was stepping down immediately to pursue personal interests. She said she had a book project. The new editor was an unknown Australian, Col Allan, currently the editor of Rupert Murdoch'sDaily Telegraphin Sydney. In the stunned silence that Chandler's announcement produced, the Post staff struggled to understand what this news meant. Any power realignment in the Murdoch firmament raised a thousand imponderables. But in the hour of crisis, the most immediate question was: Where would they go to talk about it? Only journalists can love old newspaper buildings. They have an anachronistic charm that may be detected only by the very nostalgic and people on prescription medication. Newspaper offices absorb part of the histories that flow through them. With the accretions of the years, the atmosphere in their newsrooms comes to reflect the individual styles and practices of the paper. They become comfortable, familiar, down-at-heel, redolent with tradition. They smell. A newspaper has its own odor. This is due not so much to the natural aroma associated with large numbers of journalists in a confined space as to the nocturnal manufacturing process, the muscular, messy business of applying ink to several acres of newsprint each night, then cutting the end product up into little bits and putting it into large trucks. A blind man could navigate his way around Rupert Murdoch's newspapers by his nose.The New York Post's old pressroom on the waterfront on South Street mixed the residues of truck fumes, newsprint, and decades of grime with other, more exotic traces. The fanciful could imagine a whiff of the drug deals that at various times in its august history went down in the paper's loading bays, alongside the rats in the parking lot. Murdoch's Fleet Street newspaper offices in London are a shadow of their old selves, based now in an anonymous industrial plant in Wapping. In Australia the pervasive aroma at Queensland Newspapers, the Brisbane chain that became the Murdoch family's lost birthright, is a product of industrial-strength disinfectants, the soap factory next door, and the cattle stalls in the showgrounds nearby. When News Corporation's Australian editors met for a conference in the building in early 1999, toilet seats had to be replaced and the more aromatic sections sealed off, to make the effect less overpowering. Before Lachlan Murdoch's renovations, News Corp's headquarters in Sydney had a distinctive bouquet of old beer and perspiration, an unhappy combination that in large quantities acquires the aroma of urine. Advertiser Newspapers in Adelaide hosts a more pungent smell when waste trucks pump raw sewage from the building's septic tank. There is something about the newspaper business that is never far from the down-at-heel and scruffy. Grunge is a part of newspaper ethos. This is one measure of how lethal the march of technology has bChenoweth, Neil is the author of 'Rupert Murdoch: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Media Wizard - Neil Chenoweth - Hardcover - 1 AMER ED' with ISBN 9780609610381 and ISBN 0609610384.