The press should ideally be the eyes, ears and voice of the public in any state. However, freedom of the press varies across states and is especially lacking in autocratic ones. This paper asks how the press in autocracies tackles the challenge of reporting on contentious mobilization, i.e. protests events that threaten the very survival of the regime. For this, it relies on count and structural topic models applied to an original dataset of roughly half a million newspaper articles published before and after the events of the Arab Spring (January 2009 – December 2011), and on new protest event data from the Mass Mobilizations in Autocracies Dataset. We find that both the extent of coverage and its content is influenced by the overall degree of censorship in MENA countries. Moreover, threats to authoritarian regimes, measured both as intensity of domestic protests and intensity of protests across the wider MENA region, also influence the coverage of the issue. We also find that these effects are stronger for state owned newspapers.