The Herald’s New Crime Columnist

When Michele McPhee left the Herald to do radio full-time (and also periodically write for Boston magazine), there was some internal jockeying to replace her. In addition to being the city’s top cop reporter, McPhee also penned a weekly column called “The Beat” — one of the Herald’s most coveted gigs.

From what I hear, there were a number of applicants, but ultimately it came down to two in-house candidates: Jessica Van Sack and O’Ryan Johnson.

Today, the winner was declared: Van Sack is the new McPhee.

Van Sack is rising quickly at the Herald; she left the Patriot Ledger for the Boston’s favorite (and, uh, only) tabloid a little more than a year ago. She spent much of the last 12 months covering Willard Romney and presidential politics.

For my money, she offered some of the best political pieces from the trail. But as far as the inner workings of the Herald are concerned, it’s a big promotion for Van Sack.

“‘The Beat’ is more in my wheelhouse,” Van Sack says. “This is more my pace. I like dealing with real people on the ground who are real with you more than I like dealing with Power suits…I’m sure Dave [Wedge] and Casey [Ross] will be fine keeping track of Mitt without me.”

It’ll be interesting to see not only how Van Sack transitions from pols to cops, but also how she uses “The Beat.” In the past, I was critical of McPhee’s columns, which too often felt limp compared to her harder, more aggressive news stories — as though she was trading that space in order to maintain quality sources within the Boston Police Department.

But you don’t have to wait to see how Van Sack compares to her predecessor. Her first attempt at writing “The Beat” is in today’s paper.

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