Jason Piscia
Publish Date

Five distinguished graduates of the University of Illinois Springfield’s Public Affairs Reporting program will be inducted this summer into the Bill Miller PAR Hall of Fame.

The inductees – Jeremy Finley, Daralene Jones, Phil Jurik, J. Jacqueline McLean and Christine Tressel – were selected by a committee of current PAR Hall of Famers.

The group will be honored June 15 as part of a PAR 50th anniversary celebration at the Union League Club of Chicago. Tickets for PAR Program 50th Anniversary Celebration are on sale now.

More about the inductees:

Jeremy Finley
Finley (

Jeremy Finley (Class of 1996) is the chief investigative reporter for WSMV4 in Nashville. He specializes in investigations into political corruption, criminal activity and waste of taxpayer money. His investigations have resulted in hearings before Congress, multiple criminal charges and prison sentences, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and district attorney investigations, new state laws, the resignation of one of the highest paid elected officials in Nashville, a $1 million payout to the victims of a nationwide company scamming the sick and uninsured, and the discovery of missing girls. Finley is a two-time recipient of the Investigative Reporters and Editors award and won a national Headliner award for investigative reporting. He’s also received 25 Midsouth Emmys and four regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Finley is also an internationally published novelist. His debut novel, "The Darkest Time of Night," was called one of the best books of the summer by People magazine and the New York Post in 2018. His next book, "The Dark Above," received rave reviews from NPR and the Library Journal. Finley is a graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. (Source:

Daralene Jones
Jones (

Daralene Jones (Class of 2003) is an anchor for WFTV Channel 9 in Orlando and an Emmy award-winning investigative reporter. She was the executive producer of the “The Ocoee Massacre,” a television documentary detailing what sparked the killings of Blacks and destruction of their property on Election Day 1920 in Ocoee, Fla. She also produced “Groveland Four: Journey to Exoneration,” the story of four Black men who were wrongly accused of raping a white woman in 1949. Her reporting on police use of force in 2019 prompted several police agencies to audit their reporting of excessive force cases. She was the first to expose gang violence connected to a string of murders, forcing the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to bring in assistance from the FBI. Her extensive reporting on the lack of COVID-19 reporting for day cares prompted the Florida Department of Health to change course and start tracking cases at day cares and schools statewide. Before joining Channel 9, Jones reported in Decatur, Springfield, Memphis and Philadelphia. In February 2024, she published her first children’s book, Luke Learns, the first in a series about dedicated but often unseen community helpers. Jones was introduced to journalism when she worked for the student newspaper and television station at Illinois State University.  (Source:

Phil Jurik
Jurik (Tribune photo)

Phil Jurik (Class of 1983) is managing editor of the Chicago Tribune. He has been with the Tribune since 2003, having served as deputy metro editor, editor of the suburban news group, metro editor and director of content-news. Some of the biggest stories in recent Tribune history have been produced under his direction: the pandemic toll, the Laquan McDonald murder case, the migrant crisis, fallout from the murder of George Floyd, the University of Illinois admissions scandal, corruption in Harvey and other suburbs, lapses in policing predatory doctors, DCFS failures, universities' handling of sexual assaults, and mass murders in Aurora and Tinley Park. He edited two Pulitzer finalists, Headliner and other national award winners. “With steady leadership and unassailable ethics, Phil kept our staff focused on its mission despite turbulent times,” said Tribune Executive Editor Mitch Pugh. “And, in doing so, our newsroom has exposed corruption, helped change laws, sparked national conversations and righted countless wrongs.” Prior to joining the Tribune, he worked for The Knoxville Journal, the Lansing State Journal, Kansas City Star and the Daily Southtown. He is a Northern Illinois University graduate. (Source:, nomination letter)

J. Jacqueline McLean
McLean (submitted photo)

J. Jacqueline McLean (Class of 1978) is a veteran investigative reporter who has won an Edward R. Murrow and eight Emmy awards. Her creative and unique reporting style led to her being named one of the top three reporters in the country by the National Press Photographers Association in 2006. Her work includes the development of OCI, OnCamera Investigations, an online, independent investigative news agency, and JM Bonjour Productions, a news consulting and video production outlet. She has produced several documentaries, including “Being Black,” which was nominated for an Emmy and chosen as an official selection in the San Francisco Black Film Festival. McLean also worked as an investigative reporter at KMSP-TV in Minneapolis; KGMB-TV in Honolulu; WCNC-TV in Charlotte, N.C.; WTTG-TV in Washington, D.C.; WEWS-TV in Cleveland; WRIC-TV in Richmond, Virginia; WHAS-TV in Louisville, Kentucky; WALA-TV in Mobile, Alabama; and KFSM-TV in Fort Smith, Arkansas. She was the weekend anchor in Richmond and Cleveland. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Bradley University and, in 2017, earned a master of fine arts in writing from Hamline University. Her writings have appeared in Water~Stone Review, No Tokens, Fresh.Ink, The Write Launch, Hawaii Review, River River, Wraparound South, York Literary Review, storySouth, and Rock, Paper, Scissors. Besides her news career, McLean is most proud of her racing accomplishments. Since turning 65, she has run seven marathons and countless half marathons. 

Christine Tressel
Tressel (submitted photo)

Christine Tressel (Class of 1987) is an investigative journalist on the I-Team at WLS-TV in Chicago, where she has worked in various producer roles for more than 30 years. She started her career as a reporter and morning anchor in Springfield for WCIA-TV while interning for the station as part of her master’s degree in PAR. After graduation she moved to the station’s Champaign headquarters. Tressel left WCIA in 1992 to join WLS-TV as a writer and later became associate producer for the 10 p.m. newscast. She was promoted to medical producer at the ABC station in 1994, producing a daily segment as well as in-depth weekly enterprise for the 10 p.m. newscast for nearly 20 years. She joined the I-Team in 2013. She is one of the station’s most in-demand field producers. She has been called upon for breaking news, from tornadoes and corruption trials to politics, including the 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns as well as numerous local elections. She has often combined her medical expertise and hard-news chops, helping guide the station’s COVID coverage during the global pandemic and producing investigative reports on the opioid crisis, mental health stigma and healthcare injustice. She has earned numerous AP and Emmy honors and a Peter Lisagor Award from the Chicago Headline Club for the exposure of an illegal online doctor's service operating in Illinois. Tressel holds a bachelor’s degree in speech communications from Eastern Illinois University.

The Hall of Fame Selection Committee included current Hall of Famers Kathy Best (’80), Mary Bohlen (’77), Michael Hawthorne (’89), Natasha Korecki (’97), Ray Long (’81), John O’Connor (’86), Deborah Peterson (’78) and Jim Prather (’80), along with former PAR director Charles Wheeler and current director Jason Piscia.

The Bill Miller Public Affairs Reporting Hall of Fame was established in 2006 to recognize the contribution the university’s PAR program has made to journalism and to the state of Illinois, as well as to honor program graduates who have had distinguished careers in journalism. This year’s induction class will bring the number of PAR Hall of Famers to 25.

Miller, the Hall of Fame’s namesake, was director of the PAR program at Sangamon State University/UIS for 19 years until his retirement in 1993. Prior to PAR, Miller was an award-winning reporter with WTAX radio in Springfield and launched the Capitol Information Bureau, a predecessor of Illinois Radio Network. He died in 2003.

The UIS Public Affairs Reporting program is a 10-month master's degree program that trains students to become journalists who produce intelligent news coverage about government and politics. The highlight of the curriculum is a six-month professional reporting internship at the Illinois Capitol. Founded by former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, the program launched in 1972 and has served more than 800 students.