Starting The Monroe Sun and covering news in the town I grew up in has been a dream come true. Though it wasn’t ever turning much of a profit, things were going in the right direction over the past four years. That changed this year with the loss of several advertisers and my inability to attract new ones.
It’s heartbreaking to write this, but I recently considered pursuing a newspaper job that opened up at a paper with staffers I respect and have worked with in the past, giving up on The Sun to earn a regular paycheck. But my wife talked me out of it, convincing me to make one last push to keep the site going, because if don’t try everything, I’ll regret it.
That’s great advice and it would also have been wrong of me to suddenly pull the plug on the site without you knowing there was a problem.
I have received so much positive feedback from running The Sun and it’s clear people have come to rely on the site as the only news source in Monroe. However, I’m putting in more than the equivalent of a full-time job and not earning a living.
I can’t put into words how appreciative I am for the community support of the site and to everyone who has generously made donations — some one-time and others recurring, as well as for all the businesses who are and who have advertised.
Though I’m going to continue to run The Monroe Sun, I have to put some time limits on it. From now until the end of the calendar year, I’ll try to sell ads.
If that fails, I’ll reluctantly try a metered paywall with annual subscriptions as a last resort. People have come to expect online articles to be free (I’ve even been guilty of that myself.), but on the other hand, people used to pay to subscribe to the Monroe Courier, so it isn’t that crazy of an idea.
A number of newspapers in the area already have paywalls, including The Connecticut Post and New Haven Register.
The Sun would lose a lot of readers for sure, but if enough subscribed I’d happily work for a smaller audience and try to gradually build back readership.
For now, if I can sell enough ads there is still a glimmer of hope the site can survive and continue to be completely free. I’m the worst salesman in the world, so if you have a business or know someone who could use an ad, please share my information.
The Sun had over 510,000 visits in its first full year and that grew to over 697,000 last year, and visits are already over 500,000 so far this year. To inquire about advertising please send an email to me, Bill Bittar, at the [email protected].
Please also consider signing up for The Monroe Sun’s free daily email newsletter.
Another note for this year: I can’t afford to pay a sports freelancer this season, but if coaches or parents can email game results and photos I can edit it into stories and try to get to big games when I’m free.
In the past four years I’ve enjoyed covering stories that capture the spirit of our community, from the building of The Wolfe’s Den Playground and state championships of Masuk’s sports teams, to the election of Monroe’s first Kid Governor and now a Monroe slugger competing in the home run derby at the Little League World Series.
Most of all, I’ve relished the relationships, including with the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, town officials, police officers, firefighters and EMS members. I’ve also had the privilege of mentoring Masuk students for their Capstone Projects, of taking on two interns and serving as a judge in the Light Up Monroe contest.
I hope The Sun can go on for many years to come, but if it doesn’t I’ll definitely enjoy the ride!