Readers' thoughts about The Star and KansasCity.com
When a business no longer exists, who claims its history?
12/17/2013 4:33 PM
12/17/2013 6:26 PM
The reader contacting me was taking exception to a line ina recent profile of new Black Veatch CEO Steve Edwards.
The sentence in question read:
Black Veatch has developed a technology called PRICO that’s proving to be a powerhouse in the (natural gas) marketplace.
The problem, according to my emailer, is that PRICO was originated by Pritchard before its acquisition by Black Veatch. I did find a clipping from 1974 in The Star’s library that mentions PRICO as Pritchard’s.
There is no longer a separate company called Pritchard today, but Black Veatch has incorporated that company’s timeline into its own.“In the early ’70s, Black Veatch developed the PRICO single-mixed refrigerant process,” it writes
on its website, subsuming the now-defunct Pritchard’s achievements into its own.
Is that a problem? It’s a common practice in any business that deals in mergers and acquisitions. But should journalists always trace the lineage of which parts of a company’s business came from entities it later absorbed?
I think the bottom line is what makes things clear to the reader. In this case, Black Veatch has continued to refine PRICO through the years, including after 1985. I think delving into the technology’s origins might be interesting, but I don’t think it would have been necessary in a single mention coming in a profile of the company’s CEO. But absolutely, a story about PRICO itself would certainly have to make its specific history clear.