Lea Hellmueller - University of Houston
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Faculty Bio

Lea Hellmueller

Assistant Professor
Communication Bldg
Phone: 713-743-9515
Email: lchellmu@central.uh.edu

Lea Hellmueller is an assistant professor in Journalism at the Valenti School of Communication at the University of Houston and also worked as a visiting professor at the University of Zurich (Switzerland) in 2017. Her research in journalism studies encompasses several research projects on digital news innovations from a global perspective; political polarization on digital news platforms; right-wing populist journalism as transnational phenomena; cross-cultural and multilingual research into the intersection of politics, religion, culture and its impact on the sourcing, verification and framing strategies of journalists when reporting on terrorist organizations; as well as computational grounded theory. She is the author of  The Washington, DC Media Corps in the 21st Century (Palgrave, 2014), co-editor of  Journalistic Role Performance: Concepts, Contexts, and Methods (Routledge, 2017) and her most recent research appears in the Journal of Communication, Journalism Studies, International Journal of Communication as well as International Communication Gazette. She is a former Fulbright researcher, recipient of two Swiss NSF fellowships, and her research has been recognized with top paper awards by the International Communication Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) as well as by the Global Communication and Social Change Division at the International Communication Association (ICA) and her dissertation project won best student paper in Intercultural Communication at the World Communication Association conference. Lea Hellmueller grew up in Switzerland and prior to joining academia, she worked as a journalist in Switzerland, South Africa and the United States. 


  • Ph.D., University of Fribourg (Switzerland), 2012
    Dissertation co-supervision with University of Missouri-Columbia, USA. Graduated Summa cum laude (with highest honors).
  • Fulbright Researcher, University of Missouri-Columbia, 2010-2012
  • M.A. / B.A. University of Fribourg (Switzerland) in Media and Communication with minors in Journalism & Educational Psychology 


  • Media Effects
  • Global Journalism 

Selected Publications

  • Hellmueller, L. (2016). Beyond geographical borders: developing an analytical model of transnational journalism cultures. International Communication Gazette.
  • Hellmueller, L. Cheema, S., & Zhang, X. (2016). The Networks of Global Journalism: Global news construction through the collaboration of startups with freelancers. Journalism Studies.
  • Mellado, C., Hellmueller, L., & Donsbach, W. (Eds.) Journalistic
  • Role Performance: Concepts, models, and measures. Routledge Press (forthcoming, expected 2017).
  • Hellmueller, L. & Mellado, C. (2016). Watchdogs in Chile and the US: Comparing the Networks of Sources and Journalistic Role Performances. International Journal of Communication.
  • Hellmueller, L., & Mellado, C. (2016). Journalistic Role Performance and the Networked Media Agenda: A Comparison between the United States and Chile (pp.119-132). In L. Guo, & M. McCombs (Eds.) The Power of Information Networks: New Directions for Agenda Setting (Routledge Studies in Global Information, Politics and Society). New York: Routledge.
  • Li. Y., & Hellmueller, L. (2016) Constructing news with audiences: Longitudinal study of CNN’s integration of participatory journalism in its newscasts. In Bob Franklin and Scott Eldridge II (Ed.), The Routledge Companion to Digital Journalism Studies. Routledge.
  • Arias, S. & Hellmueller, L. (2016). Hispanics-and-Latinos and the U.S. Media: New Issues for Future Research. Communication Research Trends, 35(2). 
  • Zhang, X. & Hellmueller, L. (2016). Transnational coverage of the ISIS threat: a global perspective? International Journal of Communication.
  • Hellmueller, L., & Mellado, C. (2015). Professional roles and news construction: a media sociology conceptualization of journalists’ role conception and performance. Communication & Society 28 (3), 1-11.
  • Hellmueller, L. (2015). Media structures and journalists’ truth-justification. In T.P. Vos, & F. Heindercyckx (Eds.), Gatekeeping in Transition. Routledge Press.
  • Hellmueller, L. (2014). The Washington DC media corps in the 21st century: The source- correspondent relationship. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Hellmueller, L., & Li, Y. (2015). Contest over content: A longitudinal study of the CNN iReport effect on the journalistic field. Journalism Practice, 9(5), 617-633.
  • Hellmueller, L., Vos, T. P., & Poepsel, M. A. (2013). Shifting journalistic capital? Transparency and objectivity in the 21st century. Journalism Studies, 14(3), 287-304. 


  • First Place Teaching Contest, International Communication Division Teaching Contest, AEJMC, 2016
  • Top Faculty Paper, Third place in the 2016 Robert L. Stevenson Open Paper Competition of the International Communication Division (ICD) of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).
  • Nominee, Global Vision Award (Office of International Affairs in order to recognize the extraordinary internationalization efforts of individuals at TTU), 2016
  • Top Paper Award, International Communication Association 2016, Fukuoka (Japan) (Global Communication and Social Change Division)
  • International Collaborator, Swiss NSF Grant for Journalistic Role Performance in Switzerland (Co-PI with Dr. Mellado of comparative project of which Switzerland is part of). Status: funded ($350,000) and awarded in April 2015 to Swiss  team.
  • LU Kaiser Teaching Innovation Award (1 st place), Texas Tech University, 2014.
  • Research Award for Research Project on Hispanic issues in the United States, Undergraduate Research Award, College of Media and Communication, Texas Tech University
  • Best Graduate Student Paper Award in Intercultural Communication, Myung Seok Park Award, World Communication Association Conference, Ireland, Maynooth, 2009
  • Start-up Research Grant for Junior Faculties, College of Media & Communication, Texas Tech University
  • Recipient of 2013 Swiss NSF Early Postdoctoral FellowshipFunded Postdoc Position at University of Texas-Austin
  • Recipient of Swiss NSF Fellowship for Prospective Researcher
  • Recipient of Fulbright Scholarship, 2010