He helped introduce objectivity and independence to mainland journalism Ding Wang, the legendary editor of the China Business Times, has died of cancer, aged 77, in Beijing. In 1989, after four decades working as a senior editor of national newspapers, Ding decided the mainland needed a non-government newspaper to focus on economic news, emerging entrepreneurs, business and industry. He found sponsorship from the Chinese Federation of Industry and Commerce and started the paper on a shoestring after borrowing 250,000 yuan (HK$235,000). He started the paper after the crackdown on the student-led democracy movement and recruited 20 young reporters who were dissatisfied with the restricted atmosphere at work. During most of his tenure, Ding was the only person on staff older than 40. In four years, he built a dynamic trend-setting paper and recruited a generation of talented journalists who later became industry leaders running their own publications. More than 20 editors of some of the country's most influential publications and CEOs of media companies cut their teeth at the Times, including Hu Shuli, managing editor of Caijing magazine, Yang Daming, editor-in-chief of Business Post, and Wang Changlin, president of Beijing Enlight Production. Hu said the Times was a landmark publication on the mainland as it introduced objectivity and independence. Ding shunned lengthy, boring reports and favoured lively writing that was easy to read. Unlike some mainland editors, he would not put Communist Party or government leaders on the front page unless the news was important. Si Gong, who is working on Ding's biography, said Ding had a knack of selecting promising journalists and providing a favourable environment in which they could flourish. 'Ding's unlimited optimism inspired young people,' Si said. 'He used to say, 'You can be whatever you want to be'.' Ding once told an interviewer that the mainland's news media was not as tightly controlled as it was made out to be, 'unless you are lazy or just want to be a messenger'. Mr Yang, who was among the first batch of Ding recruits, remembered his mentor as low-key, fiercely protective of his staff and with strong convictions. He experimented with innovative front-page layouts, discarding the stuffy, formulaic party-paper look, and launched a magazine-style weekend edition of the China Business Times which was endlessly imitated by other papers. In 1994, Ding was forced into retirement due to internal disputes at the newspaper, but he continued to exert his influence in short stints at other publications, giving advice and helping set directions. After immersing himself in financial journalism for a decade, Ding became increasingly dissatisfied with pandering to wealthy readers and decided to start a new paper in 1999 for the 'new working class', which targeted the educated mainstream readers. But the paper, Co-operation News, ran out of money and closed after a few years. Ding was born in 1926 in Jiangsu. Three years ago he was diagnosed with cancer, but he remained active professionally and last year marked his 50th year in journalism.