Years Of Car Culture Vanish As Jalopnik’s Overlords Hide Thousands Of Images
Jalopnik is no small slice of car culture, and losing easy access to a big collection of its images really is a shame.
I’m not a big Halloween person, but I do have one October tradition: Laughing at the “Super-Sexy Halloween Carstumes” invented and illustrated by Jalopnik‘s Jason Torchinsky. Today I went to share that with my new crew here at Car Bibles, but instead of hilarious photoshops depicting a “Sexy ECU” (deep cut) and “Sexy Washer Fluid” (classic), I found bare text. In a panic, I went to look for another piece of archived Torchinsky art: “If Squids Ruled Earth, What Would Their Cars Be Like?” and was horrified to see those images absent as well. In fact, all images from Jalopnik that were uploaded before 2019 (when the company was acquired by its current corporate parent) appear to have been rendered invisible to anyone not signed into a Kinja account.
Jalopnik is no small slice of car culture. It was basically the first big car blog and it arguably reset the tone of automotive media in general as it evolved throughout the past decade. As some readers may know, I worked there for quite a few years and only left about 12 months ago to come run this site. So yeah, full disclosure, I’m having a particularly strong reaction to seeing so many of its images go away because I made a decent chunk of them. But I also feel like hiding all those pictures is a blow to the whole online car community. In addition to so many of Jason Torch’s great illustrations, there are some truly stellar and unique photographs from the likes of Alanis King and Kristen Lee, detailed underbody vehicle pics annotated by David Tracy, some cool artsy images taken by Raphael Orlove, and… you get it. A lot of great stuff! And I mean, shoot, not only staff-created images but there were countless photos and drawings that had been sent in by readers to illustrate stories that are being blockaded as well.
I’ve avoided saying the pictures are “deleted” because if you view Jalopnik with a Kinja account (that’s the content and comment management system Jalopnik and its sister sites live on) you actually can still see the pics. You don’t need to have a staff-level account, either — I just made one to test it, and boom, I got my pictures back. But to the casual internet user who doesn’t want to make a login, the site’s archives look like a 10-year-old VW Vortex forum thread with plenty of useful writing disrupted by big gaps of blankness where awesome images should be.
It’s actually not just Jalopnik‘s pictures that have been swept away behind this digital curtain. Many old images from Deadspin, Gizmodo, Jezebel, and other sites from the G/O Media network are not visible as of this writing. New Gawker (they’re actually just called Gawker, but) has speculated that it comes down to the parent company of these sites fearing getting sued over said images for some reason. Rather than dismissing frivolous claims against old pictures like most media companies do, it’s just hiding them altogether.
I hit up my old boss and current EIC of Jalopnik, Rory Carroll, to ask if the images might be coming back, but unfortunately, he couldn’t say. He wasn’t able to share anything I can post about the decision to put those pictures away in the first place either, alas. But based on the above-linked Gawker story and related Twitter chatter, I’m getting the sense that there’s not going to be any satisfying explanation or rectification.
The internet is forever, I guess except when it isn’t! At least we have the Wayback Machine saving snapshots of old sites for all time, which you can use to look at those amazing costumes I was talking about earlier. But if there are any old Jalopnik pictures or articles you like or want to reference in the future, I’d recommend making an account and screenshotting them now before the folks running G/O Media realize half-hiding them like this makes even less sense than deleting them altogether.