Introducing The Monroe Sun, and don’t forget the ‘The’

Bill Bittar stands in front of the gazebo in front of Monroe Town Hall. The longtime journalist and town native is starting up The Monroe Sun.

Monroe SUN is a “bluegrass, rockabilly” band based in Nashville, Tenn., while The Monroe Sun is a new hyperlocal news site for Monroe, Conn.

I can’t sing (and shouldn’t ever try), but I can cover the people, places and events that make Monroe a vibrant Fairfield County community.

As a Monroe native, I join many current residents in mourning the loss of the Monroe Courier, the town’s paper of record for more than 50 years.

Monroe deserves dedicated news coverage, not just an occasional reporter’s visit when something blows up or a resident finds oneself in a sticky situation.

Monroe isn’t a “one-horse town” or some meaningless pass-through. It has a population of nearly 20,000 people. Wolfe Park is a town jewel with a beach, pool, ball fields and a pavilion. Monroe has high performing schools and the protection provided by its police, firefighters and EMS volunteers is second to none.

Through The Monroe Sun, it is my hope that hard work and an extensive background of living in and covering Monroe will be enough to earn your trust, while growing a loyal following for the long haul.

When I got into journalism in the mid-90’s my first published story outside of school appeared in the Monroe Courier. Its editor Marge Passeri took me on as a freelancer before I studied journalism at Northeastern University.

Throughout my career I worked at a number of newspapers, covering my hometown at several stops along the way. I was the Monroe-Easton reporter for the Connecticut Post, editor of the Monroe Courier and then local editor of Monroe Patch, a hyperlocal website started by AOL.

Providing 24/7 coverage of Monroe for Patch, while exhausting at times, was the most rewarding experience of my career. I never worked harder, but I enjoyed it so much it didn’t feel like work.

We got through Hurricane Irene and other disastrous storms together, comparing notes on power outages on Facebook, and I got to know business people and parents, as well as Monroe’s town employees, educators and politicians.

Monroe residents can be passionate in their disagreements over the budget, land use and the town’s schools, because they care so much about Monroe’s rural character and the education of their children, as well as those who are struggling to make ends meet.

When I was part of a major layoff at AOL five years ago, I quickly started my own website, All About Monroe, so I could keep doing what I love.

But I needed a full-time salary and didn’t have time to build an audience, sell ads and make it sustainable. I was soon hired by the Republican-American newspaper and my site’s web address was bought by a makeup company named in honor of Marilyn Monroe.

At the Republican-American I was blessed to work with some of the most talented reporters and editors around, who also happen to be the nicest people you could meet. But my heart was always in Monroe, as I pondered what could have been if I had more time to make my site work.

My wife, Jen, told me I should pursue my dream. It’s now or never.

Now I’m in a position where I can freelance while still dedicating ample time to building my own website the right way.

I am overwhelmed by the strong support of family, friends and people in the community who really want The Monroe Sun to succeed.

The Sun can conjure up idealistic images of rising to introduce a new day or shining a light of truth on the governing of a town. But here’s how I came up with my website’s name:

Jen: Why don’t you call it the Sun?

Me: Yeah, that sounds good.

However, the name does have meaning for me. Around 2008 or so, I had the rewarding experience of helping to plan the Fairfield Sun, a magazine-style weekly newspaper at Hersam Acorn.

I was the founding editor but, sadly, the Fairfield Sun suffered the same fate as the Monroe Courier.

So there it is! Introducing The Monroe Sun: Shining a light on the news of our town. Or should the subhead be: Monrovians take their news sunny side up?

Whatever its name, the success or failure of this venture is ultimately up to us. It won’t work without your shared ideas and news tips, regular online visits and comments (Use your real name and be cordial! Moderating comments for Patch was a nightmare, though funny and entertaining at times.).

I look forward to seeing you around town and you’re always welcome to email me at [email protected] or to call me at 203-521-8593.

May the Sun rise! And don’t forget the “The.”


    • Good luck Bill…. your energy and input is much needed in Monroe!…Norm and Sharron and Mercier

  1. Great News and Good Luck with the ads. Bethel has a fee newspaper distributed through it’s advertisers. I have often through that Monroe should have the same

  2. Monroe is lucky to have you. You’ve always been the best reporter for your hometown. I am signed up for the newsletter and looking forward to reading all about Monroe, in The Monroe Sun.

  3. Monroe is a lucky town. Many towns have lost their local news coverage. A round of applause for Bill Bittar for sharing his talent.
    PS: Ach, too late for the name, but ‘The Bittar Truth’ would have been cool!

  4. So glad you’re picking up the torch. Monroe needs great local reporters! All the best, Bill.

  5. I miss the Monroe Courier a great deal. It was a nice place for young writers to place their stories.Blessings to the new endeavor The Monroe Sun as I feel it has great potential. evie . andrejczyk

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