Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

The Company Newspaper

Newspapers create imagined spaces of community and belonging. One of the most important technologies of the Hoshi franchise system was the company newspaper. It is this newspaper that provides two major sources for this module: "Beikoku no kusuriya" and "Hoshi shachō ga Ō-Bei yori motaraseru Kōtetsu-sei Hoshi-shiki kumitate tenpo ni tsuite." 

Established in November 1913, the newspaper was first published once every two months. Subsequently, the newspaper moved to a monthly publication schedule, and finally a bi-weekly schedule. It was distributed to every domestic and overseas franchise. Its contents included news about the day-to-day happenings at the company's headquarters, testimonials of high-performing franchise owners, and information about new products and new techniques to improve sales. One of its primary goals concerned how to attract and interact with customers. To this end, there were two long-running columns in the newspaper, which reflected the nature of selling medicines as a for-profit yet humanitarian enterprise. The first was "Business transactions" (Shōbai ōrai), which provided articles that treated medicines as any other commodity, by providing practical tips on marketing, advertising, and sales. The second was "Hygiene Toolbox" (Eisei chikō), which helped promote sales by arguing that clerks needed to impart medical knowledge to help them gain the trust of consumers, providing medical advice concerning proper hygienic practices and how to treat common illnesses using, of course, Hoshi medicines.

Like all educational tools, the newspaper had a disciplinary function. Articles often addressed how to manage store clerks, paying careful attention to their potentially harmful attitudes and dispositions. The very best franchise managers and clerks shared the company's ambition for growth and success, and were regularly featured as ideal clerks. One example was the story of the twenty-five year old franchisee Kai Machiko, an exceptional "young female better than men" whose diligence in following company directions as well as her personalized treatment of customers was the reason why her Saga Drugstore was the top pharmacy in her district of Otaru. Nearly every issue of the newspaper contained a section that ranked franchise managers for achieving sales goals or issued punishments for franchises found to have violated company regulations such as selling products that competed with Hoshi products. The company also solicited feedback through the newspaper, requesting articles for publication about techniques for sales, successes, failures, and personal stories.

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