Former People's Daily editor-in-chief Fan Jingyi, praised as a committed newsman with high artistic and literary acumen before becoming noted for his efforts in journalism education, died on Saturday at Beijing Hospital, aged 79. He was respected not only for his persistence in journalism and his accomplishments in poetry, calligraphy and painting, but also his efforts in cultivating talent while he was a professor and the dean of Tsinghua University's School of Journalism and Communication. Wang Jianhua, Communist Party secretary of the school, said Fan died of gall bladder cancer, which was diagnosed in May. 'He was renowned for having the temperament of a scholar, and talent in art, while being a first-class journalist,' said Professor Yu Guoming, deputy dean of Renmin University's School of Journalism and Communication. 'However, he was very modest, down-to-earth and easy to approach.' After five years at the People's Daily in 1998, Fan retired but continued to teach two or three times a week at Tsinghua. 'He thought highly of journalism education and the cultivation of students,' Wang said. 'He took two or three modules until two years ago, when his eyesight worsened. He encouraged students to do investigative research at the grass-roots level.' As dean of the Tsinghua school from April 2002, Fan cultivated talent with practical experience. Born in 1931 in Suzhou, Jiangsu, Fan graduated from St John's University in Shanghai in 1951. He gave up a position as a university teacher and became an editor of a Communist Party daily in the northeast. In 1957, he was labelled a rightist and his family was sent to rural Liaoning. It was not until the early 1980s that he returned to journalism as deputy chief editor of the Liaoning Daily in 1983. He became editor-in-chief at the Economic Daily in 1986 and then moved to the same position at the People's Daily in 1993. Fan once wrote that only people who love journalism are willing to 'eat bitterness' and face risks until the last day of their lives. 'If there is an afterlife,' he wrote, 'I will still be a journalist.' Fan is survived by his wife, a daughter and a son.