Design Mistake Plasters Floor-to-Ceiling Images of Rupert Murdoch in Rival's Office

AS Fairfax Media staff took in the surroundings on Wednesday at their new offices in inner-Sydney Pyrmont, they had an uneasy feeling they were being watched.

The floor-to-ceiling panels, installed overnight, appeared to be more than just artful lines topped with crazy lettering to mark each section of the office. But it was hard to make out the image.

Eventually, an artist cracked the code. The giant glass panels featured a photograph of News Corporation Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch - Fairfax's arch rival and publisher of The Australian.

The discovery was not made until after a grand tour of the new offices - to house The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review and The Sun-Herald - by the chairman of the board, Ron Walker, CEO David Kirk and the rest of the board on Wedmorning.

Staff say there are about 50 panels across three floors and management was last night ripping them down before the glue dried. Some staff members were souveniring the panels.

One theory has it that the designer, looking for images of the media, picked one of Murdoch believing him to be the owner of Fairfax Media.

The Australian contacted SMH editor Alan Oakley last night, but he did not return calls. However, a Fairfax spokesman, Bruce Wolpe, confirmed the image was, indeed, of Mr Murdoch.

"His image is gazing fondly on the newsroom of today, which he has talked about in such rapturous terms and a vote is being taken now as to whether it's the best place for him or whether we should find another location," he said.

Mr Wolpe claimed it was not a mistake but the result of a design idea to honour Australian business leaders.

"It's a business motif, that's why it went up in the business section," he said. A picture of the late Kerry Packer is also featured on at least one pillar.

Last month, the Herald was produced for the first time from the new building. To mark the occasion, the Herald published a cheeky editorial headed "Dear Mr Rupert Murdoch". "We note your remarks in relation to the shape of journalism to come... You are most welcome to come and view what your newspaper, The Australian, called "the newsroom of tomorrow"; it is here today at the Herald."

News Corp. is the parent company of The Australian and