Taste is a notoriously difficult area in which to lay down guidelines. What shocks one person will leave another unmoved; some see challenging the boundaries of accepted standards as a part of progress while others pine for an age where everybody behaved themselves much more correctly, and piano legs were covered in order not to arouse thoughts of well-turned ankles. For those who would like life to be more genteel, this is not a very comforting time. In Washington, the Monica Lewinsky story has been notable not just for what Ms Lewinsky is reported to have said, but also for the frank nature of media reporting. In East Africa, meanwhile, the terrorist bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam produced not only stories of horror but also some photographs that most newspapers found impossible to print. In both cases, the media has been faced with the quandary of where their duty to give their audiences the full story ends, and where the bounds of taste come into effect. The 'publish and be damned' approach to journalism is usually taken to refer to revealing the truth which those involved would prefer to keep under wraps. But does it also apply to details of the United States president's alleged sex life - or to photographs of mangled bodies in the rubble of Nairobi? In the case of the Post, and of most other newspapers I saw at the weekend, the answer was yes to the first part of that question and no to the second. Newspapers which, a couple of decades ago, would not have thought of running stories about President Kennedy's private life now unabashedly run detailed accounts of FBI tests on the stain on Ms Lewinsky's dress. The story has become such a subject of worldwide gossip and innuendo that nothing seems capable of causing a shock any more. Whether Bill Clinton rejects the allegations or makes a heartfelt confession on prime time television, the Lewinsky case may have serious effects on the status of the presidency reaching beyond what actually happened. Respect for the office of the presidency may have been reduced for ever by the cloud of scandal moored over the White House. The conduit of that will have been the underlying message in media coverage that you can't trust the man in the Oval Office. You may like him, you may appreciate the booming economy, you may not think that what he's accused of doing really matters. But the bottom line is that you don't trust him, a judgment formed in part at least on the basis of media reports making it plain that, as far as they are concerned, there are no limits in reporting on Mr Clinton. That is certainly a triumph of telling things as they are, or at least as they are presumed to be. But in the case of the pictures from Nairobi, the great majority of the media held back. Why? Because the images from the bombing were simply too horrible. Because the words told the story of what had happened. And because newspapers are not simply open-ended means of passing on words and images without any filtering process. So, for all the charges that the media has sold out to sensationalism and dumbed down, taste does come into play. That means they will always be open to charges of hypocrisy, of applying a selective screen to reporting. As one colleague said, perhaps the awful nature of the photographs we did not print was what was needed to show the full horror of such terrorist acts. By not using them were we shielding our readers like nannies putting their hands over a child's eyes to block out a nasty sight? Perhaps. But sometimes, even in this enlightened age where just about anything goes, taste does have its place, after all. Just don't tell Bill Clinton.