I work with a client, a wildlife biologist, who has always told me to create maps to TELL A STORY. Working with him, I create maps about wetlands and water ways on a potential property, called wetland delineation. What struck me though is the idea of TELLING A STORY, about how water runs in certain ways, or different times of the year, etc. Symbology helps me TELL THAT STORY, so that those in positions to make decisions, can interpret and plan based on the story I portray in a map.
But there are other types of Story Maps. For example, ESRI has created templates and discussed the use of Story Maps as INTERACTIVE ONLINE stories about places, many different types, different formats, all to inform the public in a rather non-technical way, to discuss the Geographical Story of a place. See the discussion on www.webmapsolutions.com/geography-story-maps-location-technology or go the http://blogs.esri.com/esri/arcgis/2012/10/25/story-map-templates/ to see how ESRI provies Story Map templates.
Story Maps are used in education as well. For example, the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development uses STORY BOARDS (http://www.eed.state.ak.us/TLS/FRAMEWORKS/sstudies/part4a16.htm) that “provide a visual means for conceptualizing and organizing information. It seems in these days of overwhelming gobs of data and information, the idea of a STORY MAP, a STORY BOARD, and TELLING A STORY with maps and ancillary media and information, is an excellent way to educate, describe and show the general public how geography enriches the world we live in.