The New York Times' technology columnist has a review of six different Bluetooth wireless speakers that includes this baffling sentence: "Bose also makes a Bluetooth wireless speaker, but it declined to participate in this review."
What does that mean in plain English? The Times decided to review Bluetooth wireless speakers, but it only would write about the companies that would give free samples of their products to the New York Times? The Times decided to review Bluetooth wireless speakers, but the reviewer was too lazy or too busy to go buy a Bose speaker and return it to the store after reviewing it? The Times decided to review Bluetooth wireless speakers, but it didn't have the budget to test a Bose speaker? The Times technology column leaves it up to the technology companies, rather than up to the editors, whether products will be written about in the paper? Imagine if the paper handled movie or book or restaurant reviews, or news coverage in general, on the same principle.
In fact, it's a dirty secret of news that much of what appears in the paper is what the people or companies (or the public relations firms representing them) want to appear in the paper, which can depart in lots of ways from reality. The Pogue column is unusual in that it discloses that, though it would be nice if the disclosure were even more direct and clear.
Update: Mr. Pogue writes by way of explanation:
All of the major tech reviewers (USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Wired, Gizmodo, etc.) work the same way: We request loans of equipment to test, and then we return that equipment when we're finished with the review. In my 10 years of writing reviews for The Times, this is only the second time a company has refused to participate under this system, so I thought it was worth mentioning. To my knowledge, only Consumer Reports actually buys the stuff they review.
I could have done the "buy and return" method you suggest. If it were some groundbreaking product that I couldn't get any other way—a new iPhone or Kindle or something—I would have done just that (I've done it in the past). But this column was meant to be a general overview of a category that's filled with competitors. It didn't seem worth going to that trouble to include one particular brand that didn't want to be included anyway.