From 2001 to 2003, she was a lecturer at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, teaching print and broadcast reporting. Before that, she taught journalism at several other universities in the Washington area.
In her journalism career, she worked as an assignment editor for WRC-TV in Washington for 16 years. She covered Virginia and other beats, and for several years was in charge of planning the next day's coverage and coordinating coverage of elections and other major news events.
She went to WRC from The Washington Star, which went out of business in 1981. At the Star, Beck was the Arlington-Alexandria bureau chief, a copy editor and reporter. She covered the Virginia General Assembly, Fairfax County, Va., the District of Columbia school system and several other beats. In her first job at the Star, Beck was a dictationist, typing stories dictated by reporters on assignment and on deadline. She became a reporter trainee and reporter after that.
Beck holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Maryland, both in journalism.