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Current TV is trying a bold new approach, devoting half of its screen to a real-time Twitter feed divided into dozens of categories. Viewers can see what mainstream media figures are tweeting, what politicos attached to Obama or Romney are saying, and even voters in key swing states. The tweets will take up more screen space than pictures from the convention or commentators like Al Gore.

On TV, Current producers choose the Twitter feeds that run on the air. Online, viewers can choose what feeds to follow.

“There’s a swirl of conversation going on right now in the country, and TV has never found a way to tap into it,” said David Bohrman, who runs Current.

The different online approaches also speak to the spirit of experimentation. NBC is offering an unadorned gavel-to-gavel feed because it is also providing a network summary (except for Sept. 5, when it is pre-empted by a football game) and full nights of coverage anchored by the left-leaning anchor team on MSNBC. CBS is preparing online specials for both directly before and after its television coverage, the latter anchored by Scott Pelley. PBS will have presidential historians on hand for analysis of convention speeches.

The online specials allow CBS a chance to reach an audience that doesn’t normally follow the network regularly, said Susan Zirinsky, who is producing the network’s coverage.

“It affords us an opportunity on exciting new platforms to spread our original reporting, our seasoned veterans and coverage that can give you a wide perspective,” she said. “I think that’s way cool.”

Lead anchors on the network coverage include Pelley on CBS, Brian Williams on NBC, and Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos on ABC. The Republicans meet next week in Tampa, with the Democrats meeting the following week in Charlotte.

With the dynamic media landscape, the media’s long-held role as agenda-setters is changing, too. The convention coverage will be much watched to see who can best take advantage of them and rule a world where tablets, smartphones and laptops are as much a part of many people’s big-event experience as flat-screen TVs.

“I have five screens at my desk right now,” Lukasiewicz said. “That’s kind of where I max out.”