The fundamental issue with most 'reviews' is who effectively pays for them. There is a reason that organizations from Consumer Report to serious restaurant reviewers either purchase/pay for all the items they review or return them after the review:
Only if the reviewers are not funded by the producers can one eliminate the conflict of interest and (perceived) bias.
Organizations like Consumer Report have PAID employees to go out and do these unbiased researches.
Serious Restaurant reviewer status means one of two things:
A. You are employed by a magazine or similar media
B. You have a very popular blog
In both cases, you are PAID. Albeit via advertisements if it's a blog.
What's my point? You can't compare reviewers like snowboarders to these PAID people.
holds for almost any 'product' - note the ignominious role played by the credit rating agencies in the recent financial crisis or by equity research analysts during the .com boom - both these groups were effectively paid by the issuers/companies for their 'reviews' and the results were predictable.
Note that this even the case for indirect funding - e.g., car magazines do not get 'free' cars that they get to keep after their reviews. However, economically they depend on advertising from the exact same manufacturers and they can ill afford to 'bite the hand that feeds them'. As a result, most reviews are overwhelmingly positive.
Where is your source for this? If my memory serves me right, I remember reading several car magazines mentioning they have so-and-so car in the company garage. Now whether or not it was bought by said company, who knows? I'm more inclined to believe they obtained that exotic sports car from a manufacturer.
Sounds nice but practically completely impossible/not workable. Who is going to 'anoint' the reviewers that are going to get all this free gear? And it provides even more motivation for manufacturers to provide 'incentives' in order to secure positive reviews - say NS sending over 20 instead of 10 boards, Mervin including a few Cyrus decks in the review batch, etc.
You misunderstood him I believe.
I for one have access to lots of free gear. Well, admittedly not so much the case lately as I'm phasing myself out of my current job. But for the past three years, I worked for a snowboard retailer. Long story short, I haven't paid for a board out of pocket in almost 4 years.