Dr. Relly is a professor in the School of Journalism with a courtesy appointment in the School of Government and Public Policy. She currently serves as Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Inclusion for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Relly previously served as Director of Global Initiatives for the School's Center for Border and Global Journalism and was Director of the Studies of Global Media Programs. Professor Relly is an affiliated faculty member of the Center for Latin American Studies, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Center for Digital Society & Data Studies, the Human Rights Practice Program and the Humanitarian Assistance Technical Support Faculty.
Professor Relly’s research focuses on global and domestic influences on news media systems, government information policy, press-state relations, and democratic institutions in countries that often are in conflict, post-conflict, or in political or economic transition. She also has a line of research focused on formal and informal institutions related to democratic governance, including issues related to public corruption, whistleblower protection and disinformation.
Research and educational partnerships with collaborators have been in Afghanistan, Costa Rica, India, Iraq, Mexico, Peru, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, the U.S., the West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen. Her research includes more than a half dozen cross-national studies and a dozen single-nation projects focused on factors influencing democratic governance, such as information-access rights and various forms of insecurity. Over more than a decade, her research has been conducted with collaborators in six languages (Arabic, Dari, Hindi, Kurdish, Pashto and Spanish). Dr. Relly is the author and co-editor of two books and dozens of academic articles and scholarly book chapters. A recent book, Surviving Mexico: Resistance and Resilience Among Journalists in the Twenty-first Century (Austin: The University of Texas Press, 2021) (with Dr. Celeste González de Bustamante), has received three national awards, the James W. Tankard Book Award, the Knudson Latin America Prize, and the Frank Luther Mott – KTA Journalism & Mass Communication Research Award.
Dr. Relly was a Fulbright research scholar in India (2016-2017) and served on the Fulbright Specialist roster (2015-2022). She also was a research fellow with Columbia University's Tow Center for Digital Journalism. She served as head of the International Communication Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and as chair of the organization’s Elected Standing Professional Freedom and Responsibility Committee.
In the last three years, Dr. Relly has overseen hundreds of thousands of dollars in intramural and extramural funding for educational and research projects and programs. Educational partnerships have focused on digital security, counter-disinformation strategies and access to information in countries with information-rights legislation. In the School, Professor Relly has developed and taught courses focused on theory and practice; quantitative and qualitative research methods; media and humanitarian crises; disinformation and information security; media and global terrorism; media ethics and representation; media and human rights; freedom of expression and the right to information; reporting; and data gathering and data analysis.
Before joining the faculty, Dr. Relly worked for more than a dozen years as a journalist reporting in a number of states, the Caribbean and the Mexico-U.S. borderlands. She holds a Ph.D. from the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University.