Project Methods

The Virulent Hate Project at the University of Michigan uses news media to track incidents of coronavirus-related, anti-Asian racism. Using an established set of search terms, we search two news media databases–ProQuest and NewsBank–to collect news articles that mentioned the topic of anti-Asian racism. For 2020, we reviewed all articles that were published between January 1 and December 31, 2020.

We read through the news articles, identify unique incidents of racism and activism in the US, and enter these incidents into a database. We assign category tags for each incident based on the information made available in the news article, with a particular focus on gathering details about the type, date, and location of the incidents; the demographics of the victims and perpetrators; and the deployment of specific stereotypes in anti-Asian rhetoric. (Note: tags were assigned to incidents based on articles as they were originally published. In some instances, articles may be updated after they are published, and this may not be reflected in the incidents)


As noted above, this research draws on two news media databases. Although these two news databases do not contain every news source, we focused on these two databases because they were the two most comprehensive of the available options. (Note: The sources on maps may not necessarily the sources used in compiling the Virulent Hate reports and may not have been included in the databases used. The sources on maps reflect sources easily available and accessible online at the time the incidents were recorded. Due to the nature of online reporting, these article links may be out of date)

NewsBank: USA News

NewsBank’s USA News database, which is part of the Access World News – Historical and Current database. The Access World News/NewsBank database contains the full text of over 600 United States newspapers and over 260 English-language newspapers from other countries worldwide.

ProQuest: News & Current Events

We filter ProQuest’s News & Current Events database for new sources in the United States. This database offers combined access to all ProQuest news source databases, including ProQuest Global Newsstream, ProQuest Digitized Newspapers, and ProQuest Historical Newspapers, as well as ABI/INFORM Dateline, Alt-Press Watch, American Periodicals, British Periodicals, Entertainment Industry Magazine Archive, Women’s Magazine Archive, and Ethnic NewsWatch. The database Includes full text of thousands of newspapers, dozens of news wire services, and many news-oriented magazines and periodicals, from the past up to the present.

Explore Virulent Hate’s bibliography

Search Terms

We only searched for articles that were published from January 1 to December 31, 2020. For each day, we used the following search terms: (Coronavirus OR COVID-19 OR COVID19 OR “COVID 19”) AND (xenophobi* OR discriminat* OR racis* OR racial) AND (Asia* OR chin*)

Coding and Tagging

When reviewing the articles, we identified unique incidents of anti-Asian racism and anti-racism resistance and entered them into a database. We only included incidents that occurred in the United States from January 1 to December 31, 2020. When we entered incidents into our database, we categorized them using a tagging system we developed at the start of the project. All tags are listed on our Map page under “Category Descriptions.”