Lan succumbed to head injuries a day after being attacked while he was investigating an illegal coal mine, police had said.
The incident led to widespread outrage inside China and a rare intervention by Hu Jintao, China's president, who ordered a full police investigation into the attack.
At the time there were allegations that Lan and his colleague, Cheng Hanwen - neither of whom were officially accredited journalists - had been trying to extort money from the mine's owner, in exchange for their silence.
Cheng survived the attack but suffered a broken arm and other injuries.
Labour groups say China has thousands of illegal mines operating under poor safety conditions, but protected by corrupt local government officials.
The country's mining industry is considered the most dangerous in the world with an average of 13 deaths a day.
According to official figures more than 4,700 people died last year in China's mines, but labour groups say the actual figure is far higher with many fatal accidents being covered up by mine owners.