I can't comment on the photo industry, but I can relate how the scuba magazines work. It's the same there as in the photo mag's, all the new stuff is way cool, ya gotta have it, blah blah blah. Then they have the testing and recommendations sections. I have been told by a manufacturer that the magazines "sell" their recommendations. For a top rating say it's $50,000, for a testers choice it's more money and so on. The manufacturers that refuse to participate in this milking/shake down are never reviewed even though they may be some of the best equipment out there.
I suspect the commercial photo mags are not adverse to receiving some extra bucks now and then.
The only thing I look for in photo mags are how-to articles and articles that feature some artist I'm am interested in. The rest of it is just that much land fill as far as I'm concerned.
I enjoy Black & White magazine. It's a mag for collectors of B&W and usually has some stunning photos in it. Actually the ads taken out by photographers in the last part of the mag is some of the best stuff.
FWIW that's how I feel.