One of the biggest photo gear review sites in the world (the biggest?), DPReview, which was bought by Amazon a couple of years ago, has set up their own store, selling the gear they review. "... every product in the store has been approved for inclusion by the DPReview editorial staff."
Many people believe that it's inherently a conflict of interest for a publication to be selling or have ads for the things it is reviewing. That they can't possibly be independent and unbiased after that.
I don't know. It can be difficult I guess. If, say, Sony treats them really well, say, sending expensive review samples early to them and offering especially good offers for their readers, it might be difficult for them to decide to stand up and give a scathing review for a Sony camera if needed.
It was an accident that I used "Sony" as example, probably simply because I'd just seen them mentioned somewhere. But just now by interesting coincidence I came across this little tidbit.
"A simple fact. The Sony NEX-7 is not on the list of the top 100 selling cameras at Amazon (the Sony NEX-6 is on the list – dead last at 100.)
I received the following email from an agent for Sony…
[...] I want to reach out to you with an invitation to a very exclusive opportunity with Sony Electronics! The elite Sony Ambassador Program [...]
Participation in the Sony Ambassador Program will include tons of free products and perks like an all-expenses paid trip to sunny San Diego to meet the Sony team..."
I dunno, maybe I had a feeling that old photographic companies like Nikon or Pentax run their business in a different way than multi-faceted electronics giants like Sony. But I don't know.
But: "tons of free products"... And I wonder how many of the "Sony Ambassadors" bother to disclose this relationship regularly to their readers?