The format could best be described as a cross between Mock the Week, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue and @midnight: there are no teams or captains, and each episode three contestants compete for points as they answer questions on the hottest news of the week from Canada and around the world. The listening audience is encouraged to participate in the discussion via designated Twitter hashtags. Compare to NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!.
Unusually for a panel game, Because News has very few recurring games. There are, however, a few semi-regularly occurring games:
- Hashtag Challenge: Essentially a reimagining of Hashtag Wars, this is a quick-fire round where panelists must come up with snappy punchlines around a certain theme.
- Never Read the Comments: Two members of the studio audience read actual comments on news articles from CBC.ca's website, and the panelists must guess which story they're talking about.
- #RageWorthy: Panelists discuss whether a particular controversial issue deserved the backlash it got.
The rest of the time, one-off games are made up to suit the news stories. For instance, in one week where several aspiring election hopefuls had to pull out of the race because of some unfortunate social media gaffes, contestants played a Wheel of Fortune parody where they had to guess which gaffe went with which candidate.
Contestants on the show have included the likes of Jann Arden, Mike Bullard, Alan Doyle, JusReign, Debra McGrath, Rick Mercer, Colin Mochrie, Steve Patterson, Eric Peterson, Scott Thompson and Mary Walsh.
This show contains examples of the following tropes:
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: As is tradition with CBC comedy shows, many jokes are made at the expense of the public broadcaster, especially at the fact that the show has No Budget.
- Cool Old Guy: Eric Peterson, already a well-respected character actor on Canadian TV, absolutely stole the spotlight when he appeared on this show, cemented by his rant against the cultural barbaric practices hotline during #RageWorthy.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: When asked how Guinness was changing the age-old recipe of its beer, Colin Mochrie joked that they were making it vegetarian. Turns out he was right.
- Fun with Acronyms: When Kim Davis first broke into the news, the panel had fun making silly acronyms out of her occupation, KFC (Kentucky File Clerk).
- Guest Host: Talia Schlanger hosted for Episode 32 of Season 1 while Gavin was on vacation.
- The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Whenever an especially famous celebrity guest stars.
- Jann Arden recalls how she "shat her pants" when she realized that Justin Trudeau was following her on Twitter.
- Lighter and Softer: Than most other Panel Games, due to its 11 am Saturday morning time slot.
- Shmuck Bait: In a discussion about "Happy Birthday" entering the public domain, Gavin mentioned how it was the most popular song in the English language, after "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow". He then gently goaded the panelists into asking what the third most popular English song was. Cue "Never Gonna Give You Up".
- Stand-Up Comedy: Gavin opens every episode with an "in the news this week..." monologue in this style, not dissimilar to Dara Ó Briain's openers in the early series of Mock the Week.
- Worst News Judgment Ever: Justified with the November 14, 2015 show, which was taped on November 12, and thus there was no way to include coverage about the terrorist attacks in Paris that took place in the interim.