New Leader Of First Amendment Foundation Ready To Tackle Public Records And Fake News

Dec 18, 2019

The First Amendment Foundation has a new president for the first time in 25 years. Pamela Marsh brings more than 20 years of legal experience to her new role.
Credit First Amendment Foundation

The Tallahassee-based First Amendment Foundation has a new leader. Pamela Marsh took over this month from the retiring Barbara Petersen, who will stick around for a while as a consultant.

Marsh is the former U-S Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. She has more than 20 years of legal experience and is a shareholder at the Ausley McMullen law firm in Tallahassee.

She says her new job shares some similarities with her time as both a private and government attorney. "I will still be helping others with the law and interpreting the law and thinking about applying the law to different sets of facts," Marsh says. "There's a lot of looking at new legislation, thinking of how bills will affect the public and change the law."

In the current political climate, Marsh says it's more important than ever for journalists and news consumers to dig deeper and rely on evidence rather than short sound bites. "That's what our public records law and our open government meetings laws really facilitate."

She says "we have to push back" against those who refuse to acknowledge the truth.

We've become so divided because I think the facts don't mean anything. ~Pamela Marsh

"We've become so divided because I think the facts don't mean anything, and if you say something three times, somebody is going to believe it," Marsh says. "That's why education is so important; real solid professional journalism is so important. If you just want to have an opinion, that's not the same thing."

Marsh is jumping into her new role with the legislative session just weeks away. Petersen will help her navigate these first few months, especially with more efforts at the Capitol to limit transparency. "We are currently looking at about 40 bills that either affect the public records law or the Sunshine Law in some way or have something to do with the First Amendment," Marsh says. She'll also promote membership in the First Amendment Foundation, which is free to students and open to anyone.