I just noticed that MSN has a new project called MSN Originals, in which MSN will partner with content creators to deliver a “new generation of storytelling online”. It’s described as:

“MSN Originals will expand the ways that top brands can tell their stories beyond standard media through in-content integration, and even have a seat at the table in the early stages of content creation and production.”

Together with the media industry, we can create unique, made-for-broadband experiences that use video, interactive editorial, online community, and more to take storytelling to the next level.”

Advertising is one of the main pitches for this, as it is with anything Yahoo does these days (Y! CEO Terry Semel said recently: “Our fundamental business is selling advertising…”). So that disturbs me a little – is MSN Originals just going to be another vehicle for media to assail us with their adverts? Or is it really about creating new forms of storytelling for the Web?

MSN Originals has already struck up partnerships with Hollywood production studio and distribution company Reveille (which has produced tv shows like NBC’s The Office and The Biggest Loser, FX’s 30 Days, MTV’s Date My Mom) and with Be Jane Inc., a multimedia content producer and web community for women’s home improvement.

But is anyone else disturbed by this statement?

“We’re excited to team up with the media industry to drive new innovation in online advertising and branded content integration. Together we will push the boundaries of what interactive means for consumers and marketers by bringing together the best of Hollywood, Madison Avenue and Redmond,” said Microsoft senior director of the MSN Branded Entertainment and Experiences Team Gayle Troberman.

Call me artsy-fartsy, but MSN Originals seems to be more focused on advertising and marketing — than on storytelling. Indeed it seems very much like a Web version of a television network – the network (MSN) gets original programming from content producers, wraps it up in advertising and then broadcasts it to consumers.