Rob Schmitz

Former China Correspondent


Rob Schmitz is the former China correspondent for Marketplace, based in Shanghai.

Rob has won several awards for his reporting on China, including two national Edward R. Murrow awards and an Education Writers Association award. His work was also a finalist for the 2012 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award. His reporting in Japan — from the hardest-hit areas near the failing Fukushima nuclear power plant following the earthquake and tsunami — was included in the publication 100 Great Stories, celebrating the centennial of Columbia University’s Journalism School. In 2012, Rob exposed the fabrications in Mike Daisey’s account of Apple’s supply chain on This American Life. His report was featured in the show’s “Retraction” episode, the most downloaded episode in the program’s 16-year history.

Prior to joining Marketplace, Rob was the Los Angeles bureau chief for KQED’s The California Report. He’s also worked as the Orange County reporter for KPCC, and as a reporter for MPR, covering rural Minnesota. Prior to his radio career, Rob lived and worked in China; first as a teacher in the Peace Corps, then as a freelance print and video journalist. His television documentaries about China have appeared on The Learning Channel and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Among the honors Rob has received for his work: the Overseas Press Club Scholarship (2001); The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalist award (2001); the Scripps Howard Religion Writing Fellowship (2001); the International Reporting Project Fellowship (2002); the National Federation of Community Broadcasters award (2002); Golden Mic awards from the Radio and TV News Association of Southern California (2005 and 2006); the Peninsula Press Club award (2006); the ASU Media Fellowship, (2007); the Abe Fellowship for Journalists, (2009); the Education Writers Association (2011); finalist, Investigative Reporters and Editors award (2013); two national Edward R. Murrow awards (2012 and 2014). In 2011, the Rubin Museum of Art screened a short documentary Rob shot in Tibet.

Rob has a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He speaks Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. He’s lived in Spain, Australia, and China. A native of Elk River, Minn., Rob currently resides in Shanghai, a city that’s far enough away from his hometown to avoid having to watch his favorite football team, the Minnesota Vikings. Sometimes, he says, that’s a good thing. 


Latest Stories (514)

Chinese factories, American workers

Aug 12, 2016
More Chinese companies are setting up shop — and providing jobs — in states like South Carolina.
Greenfield Industries Operations Vice President Bobby Densmore holds his company’s product in front of an assembly line in Seneca, South Carolina. Greenfield was purchased by Chinese company TDC in 2009. It’s one of the many Chinese companies that are hiring American workers to assemble its products, reversing a global trend in manufacturing.
Rob Schmitz/Marketplace

Views of the U.S. election from across the Pacific

Aug 3, 2016
If you think the 2016 election has become crazy, imagine what the Chinese think.
Shanghai resident Peng Yunliang says he’d vote for Hillary Clinton if he could, though he believes she’s “too tough on China.”
Rob Schmitz/Marketplace

Loss and redemption on the Street of Eternal Happiness

Aug 1, 2016
A reporter investigates the violent history of his Shanghai property.
Weiqi Zhu stands in front of his trading terminal at a major bank in Hong Kong. The 29-year-old lost his father during the demolition of his Shanghai neighborhood.
Rob Schmitz/Marketplace

Tired of urban life, young Chinese hit the road

Jul 6, 2016
More office workers are quitting their jobs to explore remote corners of their country.
Ye Tong, left, and Lu Cheng, right, have quit their jobs among the office towers of urban China in favor of hitchhiking the backroads of the country’s far west.
Rob Schmitz/Marketplace

A look at Brexit's impact on Asia

Jun 24, 2016
Stocks in Japan suffered their worst day in five years.
People visiting a foreign exchange office in Tokyo on Friday. Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso pledged on Friday that Tokyo is ready to adopt strong measures to address wild volatility on financial markets driven by Brexit fears.

China's Disneyland: Big enough for its consumer class?

Jun 16, 2016
Long lines — some more than 4 hours — await visitors.
A Disneyland security guard tolerates visitors' curiosity as they peer through a hole to spy Shanghai's new Disneyland before it opens.
Cici Chen/Marketplace

A dream of freedom on the Street of Eternal Happiness

Jun 1, 2016
A Shanghai shop owner dreams of independence from her abusive husband.
Zhao Shiling arranges flowers in her tiny shop along the Street of Eternal Happiness in Shanghai. 25 years ago, she left her village to work at a factory in Shanghai, and now she runs her own shop, earning money for her sons. Her abusive husband, though, has lost his job and has recently come to Shanghai.
Rob Schmitz/Marketplace

Life and death inside a Chinese 'cancer village'

May 19, 2016
Villagers in central China blame a chemical factory for a high incidence of cancer.
Liuchong villager Zhang Runxiang, with her mother in 2013, died two days after this picture was taken. Villagers say their water has been poisoned by a chemical company.
Rob Schmitz/Marketplace

The story of China through the lens of one Shanghai street

May 17, 2016
A new book from Marketplace's Rob Schmitz, "Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road," follows the lives of people in China's largest city.
The individuals who live and work along Shanghai's Changle Road are the focus of a new book about modern China by Marketplace's Rob Schmitz.
Rob Schmitz/Marketplace

China's new weapon against water pollution: its people

May 2, 2016
China's government has asked citizens to help clean up the country's waterways.
The Xiaolong River in a southern suburb of Beijing is filled with trash. Citizens throughout China are being asked to report such rivers to the authorities in a new government campaign aimed at cleaning up its polluted waterways.
Rob Schmitz/Marketplace