Nora Ephron, Model Policymaker
When Nora Ephron died on Tuesday, it is unlikely that anyone made a connection between her passing and the policy world. How unfortunate. We have a lot to learn from her talent. Whether writing a feature length film or a 500-word essay, Ephron could tell a story. She captured human emotions and made us care about them.
Those writing about issues effecting humans should challenge themselves to engage in sensitive and perceptive storytelling. While Ephron made it look easy, the craft is an exacting one. Most of us will never get it right. But we will be better off for trying.
In both the most minute and the most pressing of policy spats, we often get so lost in the analytical points we are trying to make that we forget to humanize what is at stake, an oversight that can make even the most lucid of thinking seem irrelevant.
Ephron is often associated with romantic comedies: Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally. One of her first successful projects, however, was winning an Academy Award for co-writing Silkwood, showing that you can pack a hard political punch by portraying the human side of things. Before and while making movies, Ephron was an essayist extraordinaire. Her essays are pointed and funny and collected into several volumes for easy consumption. They make for great beach reading. But they also make for a great lesson on how to use the quirky details of what irks and motivates humans to draw attention to a subject.