An American Forces Network television journalist received top honors from her peers in the States earlier this week.

Michelle Michael, a civilian who has been based with AFN in Germany since 2003, took first place in the TV Solo Video Journalism category in the National Press Photographers Association’s Best of Photojournalism 2008.

Her entry “Falling Dollar,” focusing on the effects of the American currency’s decline against the euro, was named the best in the category by judges reviewing the entries at the prestigious Poynter Institute. Another of her segments,

“Floating to the Fight,” was among the three finalists selected, along with an entry from WALA in Mobile, Ala.

It’s believed to be the first time an AFN journalist has won such an award from a group of civilian professionals.

“I’m just so proud of Michelle,” Col. Scott Malcom, AFN Europe commander, said in a press release. “Not only does she consistently produce the best work of a pool of very talented professionals, but she is a leader who makes those around her better.”

The 28-year-old native of Ohio joined AFN after graduating from Ohio University and working for a local CBS affiliate.

“I’ve pretty much done all facets of the job here in Europe,” she said Wednesday in a telephone interview.

Michael said that though the primary mission of AFN news is to disseminate command information to its audience, that doesn’t mean it can’t produce strong journalism.

“I think [the award] is proof that AFN is out there doing stories that matter to our audience,” she said.

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