Best of the web: China’s richest woman, the Sunday Times on Buzzfeed and Paxman vs. Brand

‘Best of the web’ is my weekly attempt to squeeze something useful out of my (nerdy) procrastination. See last week’s here!

Zhang Xin: the billionaire queen of China’s new skyline (£)

Leo Lewis, The Times

I don’t have any particular interest in China beyond a general interest in its rise. This piece is about one of its new billionaires, a woman who worked her way from a Hong Kong sweatshop to Goldman Sachs on Wall Street and then back again to build a huge construction and property empire. Like all great journalism it is compelling and fascinating, telling the story of China’s growing wealth through an individual whose own story mirrors her country’s.

Masters of the viral web (£)

Josh Glancy, The Sunday Times

This piece in last week’s Sunday Times is about Buzzfeed: where it came from, why it’s taken off and where it’s going next (into more serious journalism – which should worry the ST and others). It’s not entirely laudatory. I was interested by the suggestion that BuzzFeed’s business model relies to a large extent on the blurring of advertisement and editorial content, generally seen as a bad thing.

Jeremy Paxman confronts Russel Brand


The video is frustrating to watch because every time you think Brand is onto something interesting – the idea of active non-participation as a political statement, say – he loses it and starts talking gibberish. To adapt Peter Hitchens’ unkind description of another popular celebrity, Russel Brand is trying to act out a stupid person’s idea of what an intelligent person sounds like – it involves using words like ‘paradigm’ a lot.


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